Two Turkish educators to mark 100th day of hunger strike

Two Turkish educators to mark 100th day of hunger strike

Gamze Kolcu - ANKARA
Two Turkish educators to mark 100th day of hunger strike

AFP photo

June 16 will be the 100th day of the beginning of the hunger strike of two jailed educators, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, in protest at being dismissed from their posts through state of emergency decrees. 

“Semih has become so thin. He is having difficulty even walking,” said Semih Özakça’s wife, Esra Özakça, who herself has also been on a hunger strike for the last 24 days. 

“As for Nuriye, she has serious problems in her muscles. She is having a hard time even extending her hand and getting herself up on her feet. She is moving around in a wheelchair and her health situation is critical,” Esra Özakça said after a visit to the two educators at prison. 

She also shared additional messages regarding Gülmen’s health situation on June 15 on her Twitter account. Indicating that Gülmen weighed 58 kilograms before the start of the hunger strike, she said she now weighs only 46 kilograms. 

“Her pulse is beating irregularly, at around 44-47. There are severe pains in her legs, arms, groin, neck, and dorsal area. She has nervous twitching and involuntary movements as well as paranesthesia and tingling in her feet and legs. She has the feeling of pinpricks in her arms and legs. There is serious gas entrapment and pain,” Esra Özakça wrote. 

Ankara Chamber of Doctors head Prof. Dr. Vedat Bulut also spoke regarding the educators’ health situation, saying “jail conditions pose a threat to the life of both of them.”

Popular Turkish singer Sezen Aksu also shared a message of solidarity for the educators on her social media account and official website on June 14, calling on the authorities to act.

“To all executives with a conscience, on Friday [June 16], Semih Özakça and Nuriye Gülmen enter the 100th day of their hunger strikes. Medically, this means the beginning of a death process … I just wanted to remind [everyone of this]… With all my faith and hope for humanity,” Aksu wrote.  

She had previously shared another message of solidarity on the 60th day of the hunger strike, saying: “How can we be free of this sin if they [the educators] melt in front our eyes?”

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 been continuing their hunger strikes in jail since then.