Euro court rejects appeal of jailed Turkish educators on hunger strike
BRUSSELS/ANKARAThe European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Aug. 2 rejected a request by two Turkish teachers who have been on hunger strikes for nearly 150 days to order Ankara to release them on health grounds.
The Strasbourg-based court ruled that the detention of academic Nuriye Gülmen and primary school teacher Semih Özakça “did not pose a real and imminent risk of irreparable harm to the life or limb of the applicants.”
“It therefore rejected the applicants’ request that the court order the government to release them,” the court said.
Gülmen and Özakça launched hunger strikes with a demand to be reinstated to their jobs that they were dismissed from by state of emergency decrees along with thousands of others.
They were arrested on the 75th day of their hunger strike in May and protests for their release have been ongoing in Ankara ever since.
Authorities, meanwhile, have repeatedly said the educators are members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
The court told Ankara, however, to allow doctors to examine the two teachers as they see fit, and inform the court about any new developments. It also reiterated its call that the two drop their hunger strike.
Doctors following their case said in June that the condition of the teachers - who have been on water, sugar, salt and vitamin B for more than 100 days - was approaching critical.
Though not a European Union member, Turkey is covered by the court as it has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights.
Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Zeynep Altıok asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül about the conditions of Gülmen and Özakça.
Recently emerged reports said they were taken to a hospital forcefully and were kept in a room close to a kitchen in order for them to get the smell of food.
The reports also said they were forced to clean up their rooms and were kept in isolation.
“Is it true that wardens beat Özakça? If it’s true, was any legal action taken regarding them? Are they still on duty? Why were Özakça and Gülmen brought to a hospital against their own will? Why are they being kept in an unsuitable room and in isolation? Is it true that they are kept in rooms close to the kitchen? If it’s true, then who is responsible for this act that clearly amounts to torture,” Altıok asked Gül.