Ankara bans protests to prevent support for hunger strikers

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President of the European Parliament Socialists and Democrats Group Gianni Pittella (C) gestures during a visit in support Turkish academic Nuriye Gulmen (L) and an elementary school teacher Semih Ozakca (R) on the 65th day of a hunger strike in protest to their dismissal by decree-law on May 12, 2017 in Ankara. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The Ankara Governor’s Office has announced that a ban has been imposed on all protest activities in the city for a period of one month to prevent gatherings in support of imprisoned hunger striker educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça.

A statement released by the governor’s office on Wednesday said intelligence had been received suggesting that sit-in protests and hunger strikes would be organized in the parks to protest the arrest of Gülmen and Özakça, who have been on a hunger strike for 147 days.

The statement said all types of protest activities including sit-ins, hunger strikes, concerts and similar gatherings have been prohibited for a period of 30 days to protect public order.

The governor’s office based the decision on seasonal conditions and said such gatherings could disturb people who are often spending time in the parks due to the hot weather and that terrorist organizations could organize attacks against civilians and protesters.

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, have been protesting their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws issued after a failed coup in Turkey last year.

The Turkish Constitutional Court rejected a petition for the release of two fired educators and argued that being in prison did not pose a threat to the lives and physical or moral integrity of Gülmen and Özakça although a statement by the lawyers of two said their health was deteriorating and that they were facing heart failure.

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