turk hunger strike

Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça are, respectively, a literature professor and a primary school teacher. Both were fired by the Erdoğan-led purges. Each day they gather with supporters at Ankara’s Yuksel Street near a statue to commemorate human rights. These two intellectuals have been on hunger strike for more than 80 days. They are kept alive by lemon and saltwater. Both are in perilous health. Onur Karahanli of the Chamber of Doctors of Ankara, said, "They are now in a very critical period, where their nervous and cardiovascular systems are being damaged after two months of hunger." Outside Turkey there is little news coverage of their vigil.

Their slogan, "I want my job back," is elegant. It has raised the hopes of thousands of others like themselves. Across Turkey, other teachers and academics have joined in sympathy hunger strikes. Architect Arife Şahin (Duzce), teacher Nazife Onay (Istanbul) and others form this new phalanx of resistance. Groups of academics went on solidarity strike for 24 hours in Istanbul as did faculty and students from the Middle East Technical University. Silently, in fear, others admire Gülmen and Özakça.

An Ankara court on May 23 ordered the arrest of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, whom Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu accused of being members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party - Front (DHKP-C).