Main opposition CHP decries arrest of Turkish hunger strikers
REUTERS photoMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed the arrest of two educators who have been on hunger strike for more than two months, calling on the government to “not cause an unforgettable disgrace to humanity.”
Nuriye Gülmen, an academic, and Semih Özakça, a primary school teacher, were arrested on terror charges late on May 23, the 75th day of their hunger strike.
“We already know that you have destroyed justice. But it must be very hard, even for you, to be so remorseless as to arrest Gülmen and Özakça. Rather than being arrested, they should be reinstated to their posts,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a Twitter post on May 24.
“Do not cause an unforgettable disgrace to humanity. Instead of reinstating to their posts these two young people who have been on hunger strike for many days, [the government] has displayed its remorselessness by having them arrested,” he added.
Several CHP lawmakers staged a sit-in protest in front of the Human Rights Monument in Ankara’s Yüksel Street on May 24, after protestors in the area were warned by police to disperse.
Later, the lawmakers Ali Haydar Hakverdi, Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Ali Şeker linked arms and walked back and forth on the street in protest.
62 European MPs convey concerns
Separately, some 62 members of the European Parliament sent a letter to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 23 to express their concerns over the detention and then arrest of the educators, calling on the Turkish government for their immediate release.
“We, the undersigned members of the European Parliament, wish to express our deepest concern about the ongoing state of emergency and disproportionate effects thereof on democracy and human rights in Turkey,” the letter said.
It also recalled that over 100,000 civil servants, military officers, judges, teachers and academics had been dismissed from their jobs, while tens of thousands have been arrested and prosecuted in the wake of last year’s coup attempt.
The letter noted that Gülmen and Özakça are on the 196th day of their “I want my job back” protest and on the 76th day of their hunger strike.
“We regret to hear that their health is seriously deteriorating and that they have reached a life-threatening stage. Despite this fact, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça were arbitrarily detained after a midnight police raid at their houses last Monday. We thereby demand their immediate release,” it read.
‘Immediate access to appeal needed’
The parliamentarians also said they stood in solidarity with the people of Turkey and those who have been arbitrarily detained and dismissed under the state of emergency.
“We urgently call on Turkish authorities to end the state of emergency as soon as possible and to enable all persons dismissed or arrested following the coup attempt of July 15 to have immediate access to an independent and effective appeals mechanism,” the letter said.