Turkish educators on hunger strike taken to hospital by ‘force,’ lawyer says

Turkish educators on hunger strike taken to hospital by ‘force,’ lawyer says

Gamze Kolcu – ANKARA
Turkish educators on hunger strike taken to hospital by ‘force,’ lawyer says Imprisoned educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça were taken to Ankara’s Sincan Prison Campus Hospital “by force” on the 143rd day of their hunger strikes early on July 29 although the authorities did not have their consent, the educators’ lawyer Ebru Timtik said.

“It is an inhuman action to a tie a person to a stretcher by force and to wrap another in bed lining and take them to the hospital on the 143rd day of their hunger strike,” Timtik said, who found out that what happened to the educators when she met with them the following day. 

Timtik told daily Hürriyet that Gülmen and Özakaça have been kept in the hospital since early on July 29, but as they still remained conscious, they did not allow any “physical intervention” by the hospital authorities. 

“The [hospital] committee says, ‘The two people face the risk of death. They cannot stay on their own and in prison.’ But the same committee also says, ‘There is no need to suspend their arrest.’ There is a very important strangeness of the law in sight. Since Nuriye and Semih are arrested, only a court can decide on their release,” Timtik said.

“To decide when an arrest would be made is not the place of [the hospital committee], but it is the decision of the court. Tomorrow [On July 31], we will go to the court and show them the report. We will tell them, ‘You are the only ones who have the authority to bring them outside. Do not let your right to do this be usurped by anyone.’ We will remind the court of their responsibility,” the lawyer noted.

On July 26, Gülmen and Özakça were medically examined at Ankara’s Numune Training and Research Hospital at the request of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), before their health reports were sent to the Forensic Medicine Institute. The educators’ transfer to the Sincan Prison Hospital on July 29 was justified in these reports. 

Semih Özakça’s wife, Esra Özakça, who is also on a hunger strike, said she was very stressed about her husband being taken to the Sincan Prison Hospital by force.

“This is the second incident of violence he has gone through back-to-back. They have tied him to the stretcher by force. We cannot bear to hug him when we meet [due to his fragile health situation], but they are torturing him. Nuriye and Semih need to be embraced more,” Esra Özakça said.

“In 30 days, 21 specialists [doctors]; seven reports, three medical examinations. The common opinion: The risk of a life-threatening situation, a permanent disability. ‘What are you waiting for? The general committee has spoken: ‘Lives are in danger; they cannot stay alone or in the hospital.’ What to do? ‘Keep them arrested in the hospital.’ Is this what medicine is about?” Selçuk Kozağaçlı, another lawyer for the educators, shared in a Twitter post on July 29.

Literature professor Gülmen, 35, and primary school teacher Özakça, 28, had begun their hunger strike after losing their jobs due to the state of emergency decrees. They were arrested on terror charges late on May 23, the 75th day of their hunger strike.

The educators then filed an application to the Constitutional Court to be released from prison, but the top court voted unanimously to reject their demand, prompting the educators to take it to the ECHR.