Fears are growing for two Turkish academics whose health is deteriorating after more than 60 days on hunger strike, PEN International said today.
Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça went on hunger strike on 8 March 2017 in the country's capital, Ankara, demanding that their jobs be reinstated. Gülmen and Özakça are two of 4,811 academics and 40,000 teachers who were dismissed by emergency decree following the coup attempt of 15 July 2016.
Under the state of emergency, those dismissed from their positions are subjected to a lifetime ban from seeking employment as civil servants and face a range of social and professional hurdles. Their passports, and those of some of their spouses, have been cancelled as has their health insurance.
Even after dismissing and imprisoning of Tens of thousands civil servants and academics, the Turkish government does not seem willing to end the witch-hunt, which led to the firing of more than 120,000 civil servants -including nearly 7000 academics- and shut down 15 of 193 universities across the country, all since the failed coup attempt in July 2016.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide strongly condemns these actions and in addition is also deeply concerned about the health of Nuriye Gülmen, an academic, and Semih Özakça, an elementary school teacher, both of whom have been on a prolonged hunger strike to protest their dismissals from their jobs under the on-going state of emergency.
Given these most recent developments, ESW is obliged to call attention to the urgency of the situation in Turkey to provide a clearer picture of the magnitude of the ongoing repression, and express our solidarity with thousands of Turkish academics who lost their jobs as a result of their peaceful activities and the exercise of their freedom of speech.