Hunger striker educators allowed to have companions in hospital

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The lawyers, who were also defending the jailed hunger striker teachers Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, were detained just days before the teachers’ trial began.

A lawyer for hunger striker teachers Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça has said the jailed educators, who are on the 160th day of a hunger strike, have been given permission to have companions in the prison hospital, Bianet reported on Tuesday.

The mother of Özakça and the sister of Gülmen are going to the hospital on Tuesday, said lawyer Ebru Timtik. After the Turkish Ministry of Justice approved the request for having companions on Aug. 10, the prison prosecutor confirmed it on Aug. 14.

After filing an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Gülmen and Özakça were treated at Ankara Numune Hospital on July 25 upon the request of the court. The report issued by the hospital on July 28 after treatment said they would not be able to survive alone but that it did not necessitate their release from prison.

The ECtHR, which rejected a request by Gülmen and Özakça to order the Turkish government to release them on grounds of health, requested that the Turkish government provide companions for Gülmen and Özakça to help them with their daily needs.

The court ruled that the detention of Gülmen and Özakça “did not pose a real and imminent risk of irreparable harm to the life or limb of the applicants” and suggested applying to domestic courts.

The teachers, who were taken to the prison hospital, have been kept there alone for 24 days and their meetings with lawyers have been limited.

“During the meetings they placed a table between us. We could not even help them stand. Until now they have been forced to survive alone,” said Timtik.

Drawing attention to the significance of hygiene for the teachers due to the risk of infection, Timtik argued that the government did not care about the health of the teachers, who slept on the floor with blankets that were used by hundreds of people in prison wards.

The educators, who were on the 76th day of a hunger strike to protest their dismissal when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara, were taken to the prison hospital against their will.

The educators said their strike aims to draw attention to the situation of more than 150,000 dismissed state employees. The Turkish government started a crackdown on opposition in the wake of a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and arrested more than 50,000, dismissing or suspending around 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants.

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