Hunger striker teachers not brought to court for hearing

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Turkish primary school teacher Semih Ozakca (C) and academic Nuriye Gulmen (3-L) demonstrate with fellow protestors during the 65th day of a hunger strike in protest to decree-law on May 12, 2017 in Ankara. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Jailed hunger striker teachers Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça were not brought to court for the first hearing of their trial on Thursday at the insistence of the gendarmerie, which claimed there was a potential threat to the lives of the teachers and inadequate personnel at the courthouse to handle it, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Gülmen and Özakça, who are on the 189th day of a hunger strike, have been kept against their will in the Sincan Prison hospital since July 29.

The gendarmerie said supporters of leftist terrorist groups were expected to gather in front of the Ankara Courthouse to protest the imprisonment of Gülmen and Özakça but that there was not adequate personnel to deal with it.

Also, Gülmen and Özakça’s transfer from the prison hospital to the court and the improper and unhygienic conditions in the courthouse holding cells were mentioned as barriers to the attendance of the jailed teachers at the first hearing.

The educators were on the 76th day of a hunger strike to protest their dismissal by statutory decree when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara.

Gülmen and Özakça 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 the opposition in the wake of a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and arrested more than 50,000 and dismissing or suspending around 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants.

 

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