Acun Karadağ, a human rights activist and a former teacher who was dismissed from her job by an emergency decree-law as part of a post-coup purge, was arrested by a Turkish court on August 21 and put in pretrial detention.
Karadağ was detained with five other people who were also former public servants dismissed in 2016 by emergency decree-laws and with whom she protested with the demand that they be returned to their jobs. Karadağ’s arrest was first announced by her daughter on Twitter. The five other detainees were also arrested.
As part of a purge after a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government dismissed more than 150,000 civil servants from state jobs and investigated almost 600,000 people, detaining or arresting half of them on trumped-up terrorism-related charges.
Since 2016 Karadağ and her friends have been protesting human rights violations in Turkey and the dismissal of public officers. They mainly gathered on Ankara’s Yüksel Street, in front of the Human Rights Monument. The protests first started on November 9, 2016 with two dismissed academics, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, demanding their jobs back. Both academics later went on a hunger strike and were arrested on the 76th day of their protest. After months of imprisonment, Gülmen and Özakça were finally released.
Their demand to be reinstated was rejected by a government commission, the so-called OHAL (State of Emergency) Commission, established as an appeals body to review dismissals from the civil service. In 2018 Gülmen and Özakça ended their 324-day-long hunger strike.
The Human Rights Monument became a symbol of resistance and demand for justice after Karadağ joined Gülmen and Özakça in their protest. “My mother and her friends were detained for demanding to be returned to their jobs. They want justice. They want to support and give hope to those who are victims of emergency decree-laws. These are not crimes, and no one can depict them as terrorists. These people are Turkey’s most honorable public workers, and no one can create a villain from a worker. I want the immediate release of my mother,” Bold Medya quoted İpek Moral Karadağ, Acun Karadağ’s daughter, as saying.
İpek Karadağ also said her mother has health problems. “My mother has a pacemaker. Given the coronavirus pandemic, prison conditions are dangerous to her health. I am worried about how this will affect her.”
Karadag was arrested for protesting on Yüksel Street in 2017, after recovering from heart surgery. The police intervened in the protest and beat her, leaving her seriously injured.