Today (16.06.2017), is the 100th day of the hunger strike undertaken by the university professor Nuriye Gülmen’s and primary school teacher Semih Özakça. However, they are still in Sincan prison.
The situation of these two young educators is simple but a describes perfectly the current situation in Turkey. Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça were dismissed by governmental decree without any kind of individualized justification or proof. They are not only dismissed from their jobs, but banned from any kind of public service, which means that they cannot continue their careers or even their daily life without financial support. Over 100.000 public officers are in the same situation, which is equivalent with a kind of “civil death”.
In november 2016, Gülmen and Özakça started a sit-in protesting against a governmental decree in front of the human rights’ monument in the center of Ankara. They were beaten by the police, detained more than 30 times. On the 9th of March 2016 they started a hunger strike.
On the 22nd May, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça were detained from their homes and one day later, a court in Ankara sent them to the prison. They are accused of participating and disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization. The trial will be held on 14th of September, 2017.
In spite of their hunger strike, the court has announced the continuation of their detention. However, different reports as well as their lawyers fear that every day spent in jail, just takes them one step closer to the death.
As European Democratic Lawyers (AED), we would like to underline that Turkey insists on violating fundamental human rights such as the right to life. We are concerned about Nuriye Gülmen’s and Semih Özakça’s lives, but not only about them. Over 100.000 people have been dismissed from their work, thousands of people are in jail and every single day a new suicide is published in the Turkish newspapers. A young academic, Mehmet Fatih Traş, signatory of the Academics for Peace Statement, committed suicide months after his dismission. Unfortunately, reports show that he is not the only example.
As Europan Democratic Lawyers, we would like to remind that, even under the extraordinary measures imposed by the current State of Emergency, the violation of fundamental human rights and especially human dignity cannot be accepted. We call, thus, for the respect of basic human dignity.
Finally, we would like to announce that the European Democratic Lawyers (AED) are also defending of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça. in front of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg. Because we believe that their future is our future, that they are the voice of all the oppressed people.
19th of June 2017