Turkey detains 18 lawyers defending jailed hunger striker educators

Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça

A total of 18 lawyers for jailed hunger striker teachers Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça have been detained just days before the teachers’ trial begins, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Tuesday.

According to a statement from the People’s Law Bureau (HHB), 18 lawyers whose houses were raided by police were detained two days before the teachers’ trial is set to get under way.

Gülmen and Özakça, who are on the 188th day of a hunger strike, have been kept against their will in the Sincan Prison hospital since July 29. The trial will start on Sept. 14 in Ankara.

The educators were on the 76th day of a hunger strike to protest their dismissal by a statutory decree when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara. Gülmen and Özakça said their strike aims to draw attention to the situation of more than 150,000 dismissed state employees.

According to data compiled by The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 524 lawyers have been arrested and 1,342 lawyers have been under Turkish government’s prosecution after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The Turkish government has arrested a total of 2,431 judges and prosecutors since the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and dismissed 4,424 others from their jobs, a Constitutional Court general assembly ruling revealed on July 26.

A comprehensive report by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law” provides detailed information on how the rule of law has lost meaning in Turkish context, confirming the effective collapse of all domestic judicial and administrative remedies available for Turkish citizens who lodge complaints on rights violations.

The Turkish government started a crackdown on the opposition in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and arrested more than 50,000, dismissing or suspending around 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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