Mesut Hasan Benli/Selahattin Sönmez – ANKARA
The mothers of two slain Gezi protesters have launched a one-day hunger strike as a show of support to two educators who have been on hunger strike for over 65 days.
Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça went on a hunger strike on March 10 in Ankara, demanding to be returned to their jobs, which they lost with a state of emergency decree.
Turkey declared a state of emergency after the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt, widely believed to have been orchestrated by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), and has been issuing emergency decrees ever since.
Gülmen was dismissed from her job at Selçuk University and primary school teacher Özakça was dismissed from his post at the Mardin Mazıdağı Cumhuriyet Elementary School.
Mothers of Ahmet Atakan and Ali İsmail Korkmaz, Emsal Atakan and Emel Korkmaz, launched their hunger strike on May 14, on the 67th day of the educators’ hunger strike and Mother’s Day.
Ali İsmail Korkmaz died on July 10, 2013, after spending a month in a coma following a savage beating by plainclothes police officers in Eskişehir, where he was studying. Atakan, meanwhile, was killed during a police crackdown in Antakya on Sept. 10, 2013 as he was participating in a demonstration supporting the protests of students in Ankara
against the construction of a road through Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ).
Speaking to daily Hürriyet, Emsal Atakan and Emel Korkmaz said they did not want to turn a blind eye to Gülmen and Özakça melting before their eyes.
“We believe Gülmen and Özakça were dismissed unjustly. We demand they are returned to their jobs. Our children were murdered, we don’t want to shut our eyes to these children to melt day by day,” Atakan said, adding that as mothers, they try to stand in solidarity with everyone who is right.
“We want to remind them that we are with them on Mother’s Day,” she also said.
Gülmen’s sister Beyza Gülmen and nine others also launched one-day hunger strikes in Eskişehir as a show of support.
laureate writer Orhan Pamuk and world-renowned Turkish pianist Fazıl Say, meanwhile, released messages urging authorities to take action regarding the issue.
“Indifference, insensitivity and pitilessness toward hunger strikes is murder,” Pamuk said, while Say said “this injustice cannot be tolerated.”
“One can’t live in this country that is called ‘new’ and contemporary. This is tragic. This desperation depresses me every time,” Say said.
Another name who showed support to the two educators was the jailed co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who said the state of emergency decrees have turned into a witch hunt.
“We are saying ‘yes’ to the struggle against putschists within the law, but we are saying ‘no’ to injustices of the government directed at the opposition,” HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said in a letter he sent from an Edirne prison, where he has been behind the bars since November 2016.