ECtHR rejects release request of jailed Turkish hunger strikers

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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 European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on Wednesday rejected Turkish hunger striker educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça’s request to order the Turkish government to release them on grounds of health, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The court ruled that the detention of Gülmen and Özakça, who are on the 148th day of a hunger strike in protest of dismissal from their jobs under state of emergency decrees, “did not pose a real and imminent risk of irreparable harm to the life or limb of the applicants.”

While the court asked the jailed educators to end their hunger strike, it also told Ankara to give permission to doctors to examine Gülmen and Özakça. Doctors had said in June that the health of the teachers was becoming more critical.

The educators, who were on the 76th day of a hunger strike when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara, said their strike aims to draw attention to the situation of more than 150,000 dismissed state employees.

Turkish government started a crackdown on opposition in the wake of a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch the AKP government along with President Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, arresting more than 50,000 and dismissing or suspending around 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15.

While Fethullah Gülen denies involvement in the failed putsch, European critics and human rights groups say Erdoğan is using the coup attempt as an excuse to oppress his opponents.

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