HDP calls on European bodies over two educators’ hunger strike

HDP calls on European bodies over two educators’ hunger strike

HDP calls on European bodies over two educators’ hunger strike As the hunger strike of two former educators dismissed through state of emergency decrees has reached its 62nd day, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu has sent letters to Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muizniek to raise awareness on the issue. 

“We would greatly appreciate if you could communicate with the Turkish authorities about the specific cases of Ms. Nuriye Gülmen and Mr. Semih Özakça. This might help to build the necessary dialogue between the hunger strikers and relevant government authorities toward ending the strike and possibly reinstating these people to their jobs,” the letter sent to Muizniek and Jagland on May 7 read. 

Gülmen, an academic, and Özakça, a primary school teacher, were dismissed from their jobs in state of emergency decrees issued after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Demanding to be returned to their jobs, they started a sit-in protest in Ankara’s central Kızılay neighborhood in November 2016. After police intervened in their protest a number of times, Gülmen and Özakça were taken into custody, after which they decided to start a hunger strike on March 9. 

“The health situation of these educators has already reached a critical stage and I am writing this letter upon their friends’ special request,” Kerestecioğlu wrote in the letter.  

She also referred to the fact that a whopping 4,811 academics have been dismissed in state of emergency decree laws issued following the coup attempt, while “37 out of 150,000 public workers who have lost their jobs have committed suicide.”

Recalling that the mooted Commission on Investigating State of Emergency Procedures has not been established yet, Kerestecioğlu said “there is no effective domestic legal mechanism in Turkey where dismissed officials can appeal.”

“Appeals to the Council of State, administrative courts and the Constitutional Court have been rejected on the grounds that these courts have no authority to supervise decree laws issued under state of emergency rule,” she wrote. 

One-day solidarity strikes in Europe

As Gülmen and Özakça’s health conditions deteriorate, academics who have signed the petition “Academics for Peace” have started one-day solidarity hunger strikes in Germany and Switzerland. 

“On the 60th day of their hunger strike, the health of Nuriye and Semih is approaching a critical state.

Therefore we urgently call on the European public to break their silence. We call on the Turkish authorities to return our friends to their jobs immediately,” the statement of academics in Berlin and Cologne in Germany stated on March 6. 

“We are here for the rightful demands of our friends with our own firm belief in that every person deserves a decent life, with our desire to live together in peace, with all pro-democracy forces, with the critical and creative people in this country and with our claim for peace and solidarity. We support life,” it added.