Two expelled educators detained on 75th day of their hunger strike

Turkish police, after midnight on Sunday, have raided the houses belonging to Semih Özakça and Nuriye Gülmen, educators who went on a hunger strike after they were fired by government decree in the aftermath of a July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, and detained them on the 75th day of their protest. The detentions took place in the early hours of Monday.

“The political police are breaking our door” Nuriye Gülmen tweeted.

It is reported that an Ankara prosecutor has issued detention warrants for Gülmen and Özakça with the accusation of they are preparing a protest like Gezi Park protests in Turkey. Police have searched the house of Gülmen and Özakça.

Sultan Özakça and Esra Özakça, the mother and wife of Semih Özakça, a fired educator who was detained early on Monday morning along with Nuriye Gülmen in the 75th day of a hunger strike protesting the loss of their jobs, were also detained on Monday in Ankara after they announced they were starting a hunger strike to protest the detentions, the t24 news website reported.

According to the report, Sultan and Esra Özakça were detained with others who had gathered on Kızılay’s Yüksel Avenue, where Özakça and Gülmen had been on a hunger strike until they were taken into custody, to protest the detention of the two educators. Esra Özakça was taken to a hospital after suffering adverse effects from tear gas used by police.

In the meantime, 25 people who were detained in Istanbul’s Kadıköy, Kartal and Üsküdar districts while demonstrating support for Özakça and Gülmen were taken to the Istanbul Courthouse to testify to a prosecutor.

Nuriye Gülmen, a university academic, and Semih Özakça, a primary school teacher have been on a hunger strike for 74 days to be able to return to their jobs. The hunger strike of the educators 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.

On Wednesday, early symptoms of Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1, began to manifest in the two educators who have been on a hunger strike since March 10, according to a statement from Vedat Bulut of the Ankara Chamber of Doctors.

Gülmen and Özakça, who weighed 59 and 86 kilograms, respectively, before the hunger strike, now weigh 50 and 69 kilograms. Bulut also said both Gülmen and Özakça have refused medical intervention if they lose consciousness.

Thousands of academics and teachers have been removed from their jobs since the July 15 coup attempt as part of a post-coup purge launched by the government under the pretext of anti-coup fight.

May 22, 2017

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