Turkish doctors, rights groups blast Euro court for rejecting jailed hunger striking educators’ appeal
AFP photoA number of Turkish doctors and rights groups have slammed the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for rejecting a request by two jailed educators, who have been on hunger strikes for nearly 150 days, to order Ankara to release them on health grounds.
Representatives from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), the Ankara Chamber of Doctors (ATO), the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV), the Human Rights Association (İHD) and the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD) held a press conference to criticize the ECHR’s “scandalous” decision to reject the applications of academic Nuriye Gülmen and primary school teacher Semih Özakça.
“The ECHR said their lives aren’t in danger. Ten health reports were prepared in this application process and the ruling refers to only two of them,” TİHV General Secretary Metin Bakkalcı said on Aug. 3, adding that both of the reports stressed that the educators’ lives were in danger.
“We don’t understand the ECHR’s ruling,” Bakkalcı said.
Gülmen and Özakça launched hunger strikes with a demand to be reinstated to jobs from which they were dismissed in state of emergency decrees, along with thousands of others.
They were arrested on the 75th day of their hunger strike in May and protests for their release have been ongoing in Ankara ever since.
The authorities have repeatedly claimed that the educators are members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
ATO chair Vedat Bulut said the risk of death was potentially grave and the two should be placed in a medical facility.
“Prison conditions pose hazards for even healthy people. Putting these two fragile people in jail carries lethal risks. Their protein deficiency is severe and multiple organ failure is possible,” Bulut said at the press conference.
Also blasting the ECHR’s ruling was ÇHD head Selçuk Kozağaçlı, who said they will apply to the ECHR once again.
“Their arrests are completely political,” Kozağaçlı said, adding that the Turkish commission formed to investigate state of emergency procedures should reinstate the educators to their professional posts.
“The only condition for them to end their hunger strikes is returning to their jobs. We will apply to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to say there is mistreatment here and their lives are under threat. We’ll say ‘make a decision.’ We will also notify the ECHR on the developments and reapply, but this will take between 30 and 45 days. Nuriye and Semih may not have that much time,” he said, adding that he “does not know” what Gülmen and Özakça will do if the state of emergency panel rejects their demands.