Mother of dismissed Turkish educator on hunger strike detained in Ankara

Mother of dismissed Turkish educator on hunger strike detained in Ankara

ANKARA
Mother of dismissed Turkish educator on hunger strike detained in Ankara

A total nine people, including the mother of an expelled teacher, were detained by police on May 18 during a solidarity protest with dismissed teacher Semih Özakça and academic Nuriye Gülmen, who have been on hunger strike for more 70 days, daily Cumhuriyet has reported.

Semih Özakça launched a hunger strike on March 10 after a months-long sit-in protest along with, Gülmen, another academic dismissed with a decree law, on Ankara’s Yüksel Avenue to demand that they be given back their jobs.

Police dispersed the group which had gathered to protest the pair’s expulsions after demanding that they extinguish a fire that they lit to keep warm. Police dispersed the group with tear gas, detaining nine people including Semih Özakça’s mother, Sultan Özakça.

Esra Özakça, Semih Özakça’s wife, was also detained by police on May 17 in Ankara.

Sultan Özakça told daily Hürriyet on May 14 that she could not eat the food that her son loves. 

“I have to stay strong and not collapse; I feed on food like soup,” she said on Mother’s Day. 

 Semih Özakça, a former primary school teacher at the Mardin Mazıdağı Cumhuriyet Elementary School, and Gülmen, an academic at Selçuk University, were dismissed from their posts along with tens of thousands of others with state of emergency decrees. 

After the educators’ health deteriorated following two months of hunger strike, they were taken to their homes, where their mothers are helping ease their strike. 

“We’ve waited for a step to be taken [by the authorities]. For us, the most beautiful Mother’s Day gift would be the reinstatement of Nuriye and Semih to their posts, and granting the lives of our children, who are dying day by day,” Sultan Özakça said. 

Semih Özakça told Hürriyet that he was resting and reading books at home during his hunger strike. “They’ll intervene in our hunger strike by force feeding us. There are people who do hunger strikes themselves in order to understand us. If we take action together, this will be a common and powerful voice. We’ll continue with our hunger strike,” he said.