CHP urges gov’t to take action for educators in hunger strike
ANKARAThe government should look into the situation of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who are currently on hunger strike, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said May 12 after 30 CHP MPs sent a letter to PM Binali Yıldırım, asking the government to reinstate the two educators who were dismissed through state of emergency decrees.
Kılıçdaroğlu made the comments during a visit to Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu.
“We don’t find the treatment done to scholars put in front of the door, whose jobs were terminated unjustly, right. There is nothing more wrong than putting a university teacher in front of the door, just because they have signed the ‘Peace Petition.’ It is not right if you condemn them to hunger. You condemn them to death even though they are alive. This is not right,” the chairman said.
He also urged the authorities to look into the educators’ case, urging them “to sit down and talk” with them.
The health of Gülmen and Özakça, who have been on hunger strike since March 10, is reported to be rapidly deteriorating, the letter from the 30 CHP lawmakers stated.
“Taking into the account the public sensitivity regarding this matter and the irreparable damage being done to Gülmen and Özakça’s health in the strike, we ask you to reevaluate [the educators’] situation and to urgently consider their reinstatement,” it said.
CHP lawmakers Orhan Sarıbal, Niyazi Nefi Kara, Mehmet Tüm and Ali Şeker announced on May 10 that they would go on a 24-hour hunger strike to raise awareness of the educators’ critical situation.
Gülmen and Özakça have been demanding to be returned to their jobs, which they lost with a state of emergency decree. They began a sit-in protest on Ankara’s Yüksel Street on March 10 in a move to raise awareness of their situation, but as their health situations started to deteriorate they were taken home.
Gülmen was dismissed from her job at Selçuk University and primary school teacher Özakça was dismissed from his post at Mardin Mazıdağı Cumhuriyet Elementary School.
Meanwhile, police dispersed a crowd of demonstrators on May 12 as they were protesting in an Ankara square against the suspension of Gülmen and Özakça, local media reported.
The protestors had gathered at a human rights memorial on Yüksel Street on the morning of May 12 for a sit-in protest. Police detained four of the demonstrators but released them later in the afternoon.
Gülmen and Özakça reacted against the police attack on May 12 with a message posted on social media.
“The attack on Yüksel [Avenue] is an attack to bring down the support given to us. But their attacks are futile. The attack on Yüksel is an attack against all hunger strikers,” Özakça said in the video.
Gülmen and Özakça also called on everyone supporting them, asking them to gather at 1:30 p.m. local time on Yüksel Avenue.