14 lawyers of two Turkish hunger-striking educators arrested

14 lawyers of two Turkish hunger-striking educators arrested

ISTANBUL
14 lawyers of two Turkish hunger-striking educators arrested

Fourteen lawyers of imprisoned hunger-striking educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça were arrested by a court order on Sept. 20, broadcaster CNN Türk reported on Sept. 21.

Some 16 lawyers of the People’s Law Office (“Halkın Hukuk Bürosu” in Turkish) were detained on Sept. 12 in simultaneous operations conducted across five cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, following a warrant from the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office accusing the lawyers of “being members of a terrorist organization.”  

After the prosecutor’s office took the lawyers’ testimonies, it referred them to the court of peace on duty for their arrest.  

Following their summons, 14 of the detained lawyers were arrested on Sept. 20 while two were released. 

University academic Gülmen and primary school teacher Özakça began their hunger strike in central Ankara in April after being dismissed from their jobs with state of emergency decrees, demanding to be reinstated. They were arrested on May 23, on the 75th day of their hunger strike, on terror charges.

An Ankara court on Sept. 14 ordered Gülmen and Özakça to remain in jail, despite growing alarm over their health.

Neither Gülmen nor Özakça were present as their trial on “terror” charges got under way in Ankara, with the defense saying the authorities cited health and security grounds for not bringing them to court.

Their lawyers urged the court to release them but the judge ruled that they should remain in custody. 

The trial was adjourned to Sept. 28, with the next hearing to take place in Sincan near Ankara, where the pair are being held.