Gülmen and Özakça’s lawyer: They will end hunger strike when their voices are heard

Selçuk Kozağaçlı, the lawyer for imprisoned educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, has said the two will end their hunger strike when they feel their voices are being heard.

Reminding that the academics started the hunger strike in order to protest their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws issued after a failed coup in Turkey last year and demand reinstatement, Kozağaçlı said: “They are not trying to die. They are on a hunger strike to strengthen their voices. When they feel that their voices have been heard they will end it. That is my opinion.”

The two educators, who were on the 76th day of a hunger strike when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara, have now been without food for 140 days.

Kozağaçlı stated that government did not seem interested in mediation proposals by deputies from opposition parties, intellectuals, artists and scientists.

Regarding the health of Gülmen and Özakça, their lawyer said: “Unfortunately their health is related to the number of days they have been hungry. It has been a very long time. And there are all kinds of dangers and problems that can be expected from being hungry for such a long time. They are using wheelchairs; they are not able to walk without help. They have pain. They are conscious; they are able to meet with their lawyers, doctors and families.”

According to Kozağaçlı, contacts from the government promised them their files would be the first to be evaluated by an OHAL commission that was set up to deal with the cases of those who were dismissed under state of emergency decree-laws.

Meanwhile it was reported that Gülmen and Özakça were taken to hospital on Monday for a medical examination upon a request from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). They were underwent a medical examination at the Numune Hospital and a report prepared by a medical board at the hospital on the health situation of the educators was sent to Forensic Council of Medicine.

“The organs and tissues [of the educators] are shrinking. That is why they are prone to infectious diseases, their immunity system is damaged. When we look at the previous cases of hunger strikes, we see deaths caused by infectious diseases. Changes in brain tissues and problems with muscles might emerge,” said doctor Şebnem Korur Fincancı concerning the health situation of the educators.

The lawyers of the educators who started the hunger strike in order to protest their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws issued after a failed coup in Turkey last year, applied to ECtHR after the Turkish Constitutional Court rejected a petition for the release of the two fired educators. The court argued that being in prison did not pose a threat to the lives and physical or moral integrity of Gülmen and Özakça.

“This is a hunger strike and they don’t expect to die, this is not a suicide. This is a strike method which is used under conditions when people think there is no other way to make their voice heard,” added Fincancı.

Selçuk Kozağaçlı, the lawyer for imprisoned educators Gülmen and Özakça, recently said the two will end their hunger strike when they feel their voices are being heard. (SCF with turkishminute.com) July 26, 2017

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