Turkey’s main opposition leader says expelled educators on hunger strike being forced to die

Academic Nuriye Gülmen.

Leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has broken his silence about two educators who went on a hunger strike after they were expelled from their jobs by the government and said the educators are being forced to die by the government.

Nuriye Gülmen, a university academic, and Semih Özakça, a primary school teacher, who were removed from their posts by government decrees in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, have been on a hunger strike for more than two months 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.

Writing from his Twitter account on Tuesday, Kılıçdaroğlu wrote: “Does not the hunger strike of the two educators hurt your conscience at all? Those who unlawfully destroy the lives of the people will give an accounting of their actions one day. While those who have power are released from jail, the powerless are being forced to die. The AKP [Justice and Development Party] government has killed law and justice in this country.”

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.


Meanwhile, the Tunceli Governor’s Office said it would agree to return the remains of Murat Gün following his father’s 83-day hunger strike for demanding to be given his dead son’s remains. Kemal Gün, 70, has been on hunger strike since Feb. 24 to demand the return of the body of his son, who was killed alongside 10 other militants in a Turkish air strike on the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) in central Tunceli on Nov. 7, 2016.

Tunceli Bar chairman Barış Yıldırım and CHP district chairman Ali Rıza Güder has visited the Governor’s Office on Wednesday and following the meeting Yıldırım said the bones would be delivered to the father, Evrensel daily reported.

Yıldırım told the daily that the bones would initially be delivered to the municipality by the chief public prosecutor’s office before being delivered to Gün for burial.  Gün needs to tell the governor’s office about the exact spot he will bury his son, he also said.

Gün, however, said he would not end his hunger strike until he receives all of his son’s remains.  “I won’t end my hunger strike until I receive all the bones of my son. Only 160 bones were sent. The bones I collected with my own hands filled half a bag. They should give all of them to me,” Gün said, adding that he would bury the bones in a village in the eastern province of Erzurum. (SCF with turkishminute.com) May 17, 2017

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