Hunger striker says prison guards check at night to see if she’s dead or alive

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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

Academic Nuriye Gülmen, who has been on a hunger strike for 127 days to protest her dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws, has said prison guards check at night to see if she is dead or alive, the Bianet news website reported on Wednesday.

Gülmen sent her message through her lawyer, Engin Gökoğlu, who spoke to Bianet about the state of health of imprisoned educators Gülmen and Semih Özakça, another dismissed educator who is also on a hunger strike with Gülmen.

“Nuriye said female prison guards visit her cell every night and wake her up. When she asked them why they did that, she told me that they said ‘We are checking to see if you are dead or alive’,” Gökoğlu said.

The health of Gülmen and Özakça, who were on the 76th day of a hunger strike when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara, is worsening and they are faced with heart failure.

“Their morale is high but their medical condition is bad. They can no longer walk. Nuriye came to see me in a wheelchair; she has problems with their stomach and kidneys and has some bruises on her leg,” added Gökoğlu.

Gülmen told Gökoğlu that prison guards also visit Özakça in his cell at night and monitor his situation without approaching him.

Gökoğlu, who reminded that his clients’ demand for release was rejected by the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court on June 30, which argued that being in prison did not pose a threat to the lives and physical or moral integrity of the educators, said the court did not care about the health of the hunger strikers and that its attitude was inhumane.

“They are both on the verge of death, their demands must be accepted immediately. Reinstating them to their jobs is not a difficult demand to meet. The resistance that is already heard by the whole world should also be heard by the government,” said Gökoğlu.

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.

They were detained and released several times during their hunger strike.

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