Jagland calls for release of hunger strikers Gülmen and Özakça

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Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland / Mustafa Yalcin / Anadolu Agency

Thorbjørn Jagland, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, on Monday called for the release of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, two fired Turkish educators who have been on a hunger strike since March to protest their dismissal on the basis of state of emergency decree-laws.

Jagland, who spoke to the deputies of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on Monday, said, “I will call Prime Minister Yıldırım and ask for their release.”

Gülmen and Özakça were on a hunger strike when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara in the wake of a botched coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Gülmen was fired from Konya Selçuk University, and Özakça was a teacher at a primary school in Turkey’s eastern province of Mardin before he was purged over ties to a “terrorist” organization.

The educators’ lawyers issued a statement on June 16 saying the health of Gülmen and Özakça was deteriorating and that they were facing heart failure.

Jagland also commented on the commission that was established to respond to the legal complaints of dismissed individuals who could not return to their jobs due to emergency decrees. “The commission has to start its work now,” he said.

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