Hunger strikers Gülmen, Özakça kept in prison hospital under dire conditions

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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 are on the 145th day of a hunger strike they launched to be able to return to their jobs, are being kept in a prison hospital under dire conditions, Bianet reported on Monday.

Ayşegül Çağatay, the lawyer for Gülmen and Özakça, said they were taken against their will and have been kept in isolation in single rooms in the Sincan Prison hospital for three days.

They don’t have any roommates in the hospital, their things were not brought that day, they left five liters of water with them [Gülmen and Özakça] and left. They are not in a situation to pour water into a glass. Their belongings in the prison were only brought to hospital on Sunday. Still, their glasses and personal hygiene items are not there. They had to clean their own hospital rooms. Of course, as much as they could. However, they need to be kept in hygienic conditions. Nuriye is not in a position to do for herself; she can barely walk, she finds it hard to keep her balance. She takes a few steps and then rests… Semih can only walk short distances. They do not have air conditioning in the hospital rooms; in the prison they at least had air conditioning. There is no other patient on their floor. They are in absolute isolation. They ring the bell if they want to call someone,” said Çağatay.

The educators, who were on the 76th day of a hunger strike when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara, resisted going to the hospital, said the lawyer.

According to Çağatay, the guards took other prisoners outside and wanted to take Özakça and Gülmen to a hospital by ambulance. When they refused, Özakça was tied to a gurney while Gülmen was wrapped in sheets, and they were taken to the hospital by force on Friday night.

While the two have refused any kind of treatment and are asking for their own doctors, they are often asked in the Sincan hospital whether they will accept treatment or not. The hospital would intervene when they lose consciousness, said Çağatay.

Protesting the dire prison conditions, the educators said: “Either release us or send us back to prison if we are under arrest. The hospital conditions are worse than prison.”

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