Turkish Constitutional Court refuses to release hunger striker Gülmen and Özakça

The Turkish Constitutional Court has rejected a petition for the release of two fired educators, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who have been on a hunger strike for 112 days to protest their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws, the Hürriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

According to the report the court argued that being in prison did not pose a threat to the lives and physical or moral integrity of Gülmen and Özakça.

Gülmen and Özakça were on a hunger strike when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara in the wake of a botched coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. Gülmen was fired from Konya Selçuk University, and Özakça was a teacher at a primary school in Turkey’s eastern province of Mardin before he was purged over ties to a “terrorist” organization.

The educators’ lawyers issued a statement on June 16 saying the health of Gülmen and Özakça was deteriorating and that they were facing heart failure. Thorbjørn Jagland, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, said on Monday that he asked Turkish Prime Minister Yıldırım to release the educators.


Meanwhile, 12 more academics working at Dokuz Eylül University in İzmir province have been suspended on charges of signing a peace declaration in 2016, the Evrensel daily reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, medical faculty staff Cem Terzi, İzge Günal, Halil Resmi and Halis Ulaş; economics faculty staff Ayşen Uysal, Nuri Erkin Başer, Yeşim Edis Şahin, Seçkin Aydın, Aydın Arı, Serap Sarıtaş and Dilek Karabulut; and fine arts faculty staff member Emel Yuvayapan were suspended from their jobs. Şahin, who is retired, was also suspended.

The rector of the university referred to an ongoing investigation into signatories of the peace declaration by a prosecutor’s office as the legal grounds for the decision to suspend.

Published in early 2016, the peace declaration accuses the Turkish government of carrying out heavy-handed operations in Turkey’s southeastern region, where outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and the military have been engaged in clashes since the breakdown of a cease-fire between the two in July 2015.

It was signed by more than 1,000 intellectuals from both inside and outside Turkey, including US philosopher Noam Chomsky.

The peace declaration frustrated Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, leading to retribution against the academics. Some of the insults Erdoğan used against them included “so-called intellectuals,” “a flock called intellectuals,” “traitors” and “rough copies of intellectuals.”

Hundreds of academics who signed the declaration were detained when police raided their homes and offices across Turkey after the declaration was announced on Jan. 11, 2016, while hundreds of them were removed from their jobs. (SCF with turkishminute.com) June 28, 2017

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