Health of two educators on hunger strike worsening

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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 health of two educators, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who have been on a hunger strike for 118 days to protest their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws, is worsening, the Diken news website reported on Tuesday.

Esra Özakça, the wife of Semih Özakça, who has also been on a hunger strike for 43 days, talked to the Birgün daily about her husband’s condition and said: “Semih said he has pain in his kidneys. He is losing the hair on his head and body. There is a lot of pain in his neck. His muscle pains have increased,” said Esra Özakça.

Esra Özakça also talked about the health of Gülmen, who she said, was also suffering from pain in her kidneys and in her arms and legs. Özakça added that Gülmen was unable to write letters due to the pain in her arms.

Gülmen was fired from Konya Selçuk University for her alleged ties to the faith-based Gülen movement. 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 two protested for months in the same area of Ankara before they started their hunger strike. Both were detained several times due to their protests and arrested on terror charges in May.

Last month, Turkey’s Constitutional Court rejected a petition for the release of Gülmen and Özakça, arguing that being in prison did not pose a threat to the lives and physical or moral integrity of the educators.

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