Turkish Constitutional Court refuses to release Gülmen and Özakça

Turkish former primary school teacher Semih Ozakca (R) and Turkish academician Nuriye Gulmen sit in wheelchairs wearing facemasks on the 63rd day of their hunger strike during a demonstration to call for the authorities to give back jobs to public employees who have been dismissed from their positions by decree of law since the imposition of the state of emergency rule in Turkey, in Ankara, on May 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The Turkish Constitutional Court has rejected a petition for the release of two fired educators, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who have been on a hunger strike for 112 days to protest their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws, the Hürriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

According to the report the court argued that being in prison did not pose a threat to the lives and physical or moral integrity of Gülmen and Özakça.

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.

Thorbjørn Jagland, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, said on Monday that he asked Turkish Prime Minister Yıldırım to release the educators.

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