Academic Gülmen in critical condition as the hunger strike hits 61st day in Turkey

Academic Nuriye Gülmen.

Academic Nuriye Gülmen suffered from low blood pressure on May 8, or the 61st day in a hunger strike she has been staging along with a primary school teacher, in protest of their dismissal from their duties under post-coup emergency rules.

Joined by dismissed teacher Semih Özakça, Gülmen has been on hunger strike in front of a human rights memorial on Ankara’s Yüksel Street since March 11. They demonstrated a months-long protest at the same place before they started their hunger strike.

Now, their hunger strike has reached a critical threshold, with many of their colleagues in Turkey and abroad calling on Turkish authorities to allow the educators to return to work.

Gülmen was fired from Eskişehir Osmangazi University for her alleged ties with the Gülen movement. Meanwhile, Özakça was a teacher at a primary school in Turkey’s eastern province of Mardin before he was purged over ties to a terrorist organization. Both have been detained over 30 times due to their protests.

In a video recording filmed on the 61st day in their hunger strike on Monday, Gülmen seems faint and both she and Özakça look like they lost weight.

Moreover, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy group chairperson Filiz Kerestecioğlu recently wrote a letter to Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary-General Thorbjørn and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks telling them that the state of health of Gülmen and Özakça is deteriorating, hence they should contact Turkish authorities so that they can take action to end the hunger strike of the educators.

Gülmen came to public attention with her protests of the government and its decision to purge her and thousands of others from state institutions. She was detained by the police many times.

Due to her adamant resistance, Gülmen was listed as one of the eight leading women of Turkey in 2016 by CNN.

More than 130,000 people, including 8,270 academics, have lost their jobs over alleged or real ties to the movement, which the government accuses of masterminding the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. (SCF with May 9, 2017

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