Turkish purge victims Gülmen and Özakça end hunger strike, vow to take fight to court

Educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça ended their 324-day-long hunger strike after the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission rejected their requests to return to their jobs, Cumhuriyet daily reported on Friday.

“The commission did not agree to our demand. We will continue the judicial process. We are ending the hunger strike from today, but our resistance has not finished. After completing some hospital procedures, we will continue to fight. It will not end until we say it has ended,” Gülmen said during a joint press conference with Özakça in Ankara.

Expressing gratitude to the people who supported their hunger strike, Gülmen said, “We are stronger than on the first day.”

“The decision of the commission has paved the way for the court process. Is there justice in the courts? No. But there is a way forward. That possibility didn’t exist before,” said Özakça.

“We will win, and our resistance will continue.”

Gülmen and Özakça were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara. Özakça was released on probation on Oct. 20, 2017, while Gülmen continued to be held in custody in Numune Hospital’s high security intensive care unit. She was released on Dec. 1.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016 through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency, part of a witch-hunt targeting members of the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the government of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.

The commission was established by a decree-law issued on Jan. 23 to allow civil servants to appeal legal action taken against them under the state of emergency and accepts complaints regarding dismissal from the civil service, jobs or organizations; dismissal from university and the loss of student status; the closure of associations, organizations, unions, federations, confederations, private health institutions, private education institutions, private institutions of higher education, private radio and TV organizations, newspapers and magazines, news agencies, publication houses and distribution channels; and the loss of retiree ranking.

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. (turkishminute.com)

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