Turkish court ruled late Friday for the release of Nuriye Gülmen, an academician who launched a hunger strike after being expelled from the profession by a government decree under the rule of emergency in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The Ankara 19th High Criminal Court, which has released Gülmen on his 269th day of hunger strike, has also acquitted hunger striking teacher Semih Özakça, who was also arrested along with Gülmen. The court has also acquitted activist Acun Karadağ.
Gülmen and Özakça were arrested in late May, on the 75th day of their hunger strike in Ankara where they were protesting being dismissed from their posts. Both defendants were lated started to be accused by the Turkish government under the rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of being members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) terrorist group.
Gülmen and Özakça have been on hunger strike for over 250 days, in protest at their dismissal from their posts following the July 2016 coup attempt. They were arrested in May 2017 on terror charges while they were conducting a sit-in protest in Ankara’s central Kızılay neighborhood. They continued their hunger strike in Sincan Prison before Gülmen was taken first to Sincan Prison Hospital and then to Ankara’s Numune Hospital.
Özakça was released on probation on Oct. 20, 2017 while Gülmen continued to held in custody in the Numune Hospital’s high security intensive care unit.
The Turkish government started a crackdown on the opposition in the wake of the botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and arrested more than 50,000 and dismissed or suspended some 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants.
Gülmen and her fellow colleague Semih Özakça, who was also jailed along Gülmen and then released last month, launched a hunger strike in protest of their dismissal. Their cause has earned support from many circles of the society as many others have joined their protest over time.