Hunger strikers Gülmen and Özakça examined at hospital upon ECtHR request

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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

Imprisoned educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who have passed the 140th day of a hunger strike they launched to be able to return to their jobs, were taken to a hospital on Monday for a medical examination upon a request from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Gülmen and Özakça, who were on the 76th day of their hunger strike when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara, underwent a medical examination at the Numune Hospital, and a report prepared by a medical board at the hospital on the health of the educators was sent to Council of Forensic Medicine.

“Their organs and tissues are shrinking. That is why they are prone to infectious disease, their immune system is damaged. When we look at previous hunger strike cases, we see deaths caused by infectious disease. Changes in brain tissues and problems with muscles might also emerge,” said Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı concerning the health of the educators.

The lawyers for the educators, who started the hunger strike in order to protest their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws issued after a failed coup in Turkey last year, applied to the ECtHR after the Turkish Constitutional Court rejected a petition for the release of the two fired teachers. The high court argued that being in prison did not pose a threat to the lives and physical or moral integrity of Gülmen and Özakça.

“This is a hunger strike, and they don’t expect to die, this is not a suicide. This is a method that is used under conditions when people think there is no other way to make their voices heard,” added Fincancı.

Selçuk Kozağaçlı, the lawyer for imprisoned Gülmen and Özakça, recently said the two would end their hunger strike when they feel their voices are being heard.

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