Justice Minister asks Turkish educators to end hunger strikes
ANKARAJustice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has asked two jailed educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça to end their long-running hunger strikes, carried out in protest at their dismissal through state of emergency decrees.
“They do not currently have a life-threatening condition, but they are hurting themselves enormously. This is not the right method. They are entrusted to us, we are following their health conditions,” Bozdağ told broadcaster Habertürk TV on July 6.
Gülmen, an academic, and Özakça, a primary school teacher, were arrested on terror charges late on May 23, the 75th day of their hunger strike. They have reportedly been continuing their hunger strikes in jail since then.
Meanwhile, a security guard’s harsh treatment of a dismissed teacher who initiated a brief protest in front of the Education Ministry building in Ankara demanding that Gülmen and Özakça be reinstated has drawn widespread criticism on social media.
A video that emerged online on July 5 showed Nazife Onay, who had anchored herself to the ministry garden’s bars, being held by a security guard and physically abused.
Onay described what happened to daily Hürriyet after the incident, saying that “Nuriye and Semih are my friends.”
“Someone descended upon me. He was trying to close my mouth so I would not shout any slogans but he was so blinded by anger that he was pressing against my ear as if he was trying to break it,” she said.
“I wanted to shout but my mouth was closed. I struggled out of pain, my voice could not come out. As if he had caught a violent criminal, he started shouting to his other security guard friends with big excitement: ‘Bring scissors’ in order to cut the chain. My hair was being pulled and my ear was hurting,” Onay added.
“They took me to the security room [of the ministry] and there they tortured me. Then when I was walking to the detention vehicle I fell over and they dragged my body along the ground to the vehicle,” she said.