Turkish prosecutor accuses hunger striker educator of ‘playing guitar’

Semih Özakça

Academic Nuriye Gülmen and teacher Semih Özakça, who have been on hunger strike for 76 days following months of their sitt-in protest in Ankara after dismissed by a government decree from their duties, gave their testimonies to a prosecutor in Ankara Courthouse on Tuesday.

According to a report by BirGün daily, an Ankara prosecutor has accused Semih Özakça of “playing a guitar in front of the Human Rights Statute on Yüksel Street in Ankara and video images of it were being shared by a number of social media accounts.”

After Özakça stated that ‘playing a guitar was not a crime’, prosecutor continued with the testimony of Nuriye Gülmen. Lawyers of Gülmen and Özakça stated that the government officials fear that the demonstration of the two dismissed educators will grow into a major protest similar to that of Gezi Protests of 2013.

Both in Turkey and abroad, several artists and civil society groups have sent solidarity messages to Gülmen and Özakça, as well as, to all other individuals in the country dismissed from their jobs under state of emergency decrees.

Turkish police, after midnight on Sunday, have raided the houses belonging to Özakça and Gülmen, educators who went on a hunger strike after they were fired by government decree in the aftermath of a July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, and detained them.

Also, Sultan Özakça and Esra Özakça, the mother and wife of Semih Özakça were also detained on Monday in Ankara after they announced they were starting a hunger strike to protest the detentions. Sultan and Esra Özakça were detained with others who had gathered on Kızılay’s Yüksel Avenue, where Özakça and Gülmen had been on a hunger strike until they were taken into custody, to protest the detention of the two educators. Esra Özakça was taken to a hospital after suffering adverse effects from tear gas used by police.

Nuriye Gülmen, a university academic, and Semih Özakça, a primary school teacher have been on a hunger strike for 74 days 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.

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.

May 23, 2017


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