Turkish activist Saçılık says hunger striker Nuriye Gülmen is now 37 kg and at the point of no return

Veli Saçılık, a Turkish leftist protester and a friend of Turkish educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who started a hunger strike in order to protest their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws issued after a failed coup in Turkey last year, stated that Gülmen is just 37 kg and said that “It would actually explain everything. According to the information we received from the hospital authorities, bedsores have increased, and the injuries are not being healed… It seems that she will never be able to get back to her old health, unfortunately.”

Veli Saçılık, who has given an interview to Eşref Aydoğmuş from Artı Gerçek online news outlet on Wednesday, has assessed their protests against government’s policy of purge without due processes for months and has stated that “Our action has not resulted, but it was victorious. Why I say that: The Justice and Development Party (AKP), with the state of emergency (OHAL) has created an atmosphere as if no one can go out on the street, no one can say any word, no one can appeal.

Semih Özakça and his wife. Photos: Kedistan

Reminding that a year ago, on November 9 of last year, Nuriye Gülmen came out as a woman, an academician, a public laborer in front of the Human Rights Monument, Saçılık said that “She was taken into custody for saying ‘I want my work back’. I define it as follows; the day, Rosa Parks, who sat on the white man’s armchair, did not leave it. What did Rosa Parks get the rights of the black people that day? Nothing. But when we observe its value today, it means a lot. That is why I consider the protest of Nuriye Gülmen as a protest acquired. Now there is one thing we need to achieve, Nuriye and Semih’s life.”

Talking about health conditions of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, Veli Saçılık said that “I saw Semih today. The doctor was checking. When I met Semih, he was 87 kg, now less than 50 kg. He is conscious. There are wounds on his leg and they are not healing anymore. ‘I feel my inner organs melt away’ he says. Due to the usage of vitamin B1, it keeps him quite conscious. But in proportion to the melting of the body, he watches his own death. This is the situation of Semih. He is about 40 kg. It is very painful to see our teacher in this situation.”

Nuriye Gülmen as she was still free.

However, Veli Saçılık is much more concerned with the severe health condition of Nuriye Gülmen. “Nuriye’s height is the same size as mine, which is close to 1.80 m. And she is 37 kg. I think, a person having of 1.80 m height and 37 kg weight would actually explain everything,” said Saçılık and added “According to the information we received from the hospital authorities, bedsores have increased, and the injuries are not being healed. His father, by crying out, ‘I do not want to see my daughter like this,’ he said. Nuriye is in a much worse condition than Semih. I can say, from now on, it seems that they will never be able to get back to their old health unfortunately.”

As a response to a question over the calls by some people for Gülmen and Özakça to give up the hunger strike and some others who said “Now it’s our turn, we will take over…” Saçılık said that “I also said to my friends that ‘Finish it on 50th day, let me go on for another 50 days,’ but my friends had planned it as an indefinite hunger strike. They have a demand; to go back to work. It is the world’s most legitimate request. The government has to step back on this issue. They have been dismissed from their profession in contradiction to the constitution, human rights and laws.”

“They also said to the state that ‘follow the constitution, the general laws, the human rights, and return us to our work.’ It is not the fact to be discussed here that Nuriye and Semih are in hunger strike or not. The point is how a state could be in such a cruel and irrational manner and unlawfully dismiss people from their job,” said Saçılık.

Saçılık has also added that “If I know that today when I call Nuriye and Semih that they would leave their hunger strike, I do it. But I know that they will not. That is why my call is only to the unscrupulous government. But if you ask whether Nuriye and Semih trust the government, Nuriye had an answer to this question: ‘We do not expect anything from the government. We are just waiting for them to go away.’ In fact, I think that the most important thing they expect here is from people and society.”

Saçılık has expressed his feeling about the conditions of his friends as follow:

“Now it is the 245th day of Nuriye and Semih’s hunger strike. Today I did not have breakfast in the morning, I had tea, I was nauseous. If I have this feeling in one day with a hunger, people should ask themselves what 245 day means. In addition, the Ankara Governor declared Nuriye and Semih as members of terrorist organization and banned all protests in Ankara. We say to the governor; the circular you published is illegal. Everything you do is illegal. You got into the habit of being illegal. We, revolutionists, do not like your personal laws. Of course we will change your laws. But if you abstain from even those laws, we will remind what those laws tell you.”

As a response to a question by the reporter on “what kind of dialogue is going on with the police in Yüksel Street?” Saçılık stated that “There are some police officers who say, ‘Our friends have been dismissed, we could not defend and make their voice heard like you, bully for you.’ Sometimes when they are violent, some of the police say ‘Do not hit Veli, do not hit Veli.’ There is an admiration for this protest that extends to 360 days. They can not believe how we do it, they can not even understand. At first they tried to underestimate saying that ‘You are showing off, you are provoking the others.’ Now they have also cut their voices in that regard. The image of ‘How is it possible that they could resist this long,’ evokes admiration on them. There are those among the police who are sympathetic to our protests. I know there are a lot of police saying ‘They are protesting, turn will not come to us.'”

Reminding that the Human Rights Monument is now under siege in Ankara, Saçılık has urged people in Turkey and Europe to make a campaign for the release of the Human Rights Monument. “I repeatedly underlined it. You are afraid to go out on the road, you are afraid to say, but is it difficult to organize a campaign to remove the barriers around the Human Rights Monument? I have told a thousand times, nobody cares, no one speaks. Come on, you are scared of police in Turkey, I wonder why you are scared of in Europe?..”

Saçılık’s friends academic Nuriye Gülmen and teacher Semih Özakça are two of at least 150,000 people who were expelled with government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Gülmen and Özakça were holding demonstrations on the Yüksel Street in the heart of Ankara against their dismissal with a arbitrary government decree and later started a hunger strike to get their jobs back in March 2017. Both educators were jailed in May 23, 2017 despite they have continued their hunger strikes in prison.

An Ankara court on October 20, 2017 has ordered the release of jailed hunger-striking educator Semih Özakça on the condition that he wears an electronic bracelet. However, the court ruled for the continuation of arrest of Nuriye Gülmen.


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