Fears grow 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 March 8, 2017 in the country's capital, Ankara, demanding that their jobs be reinstated. Gülmen and Özakça are two of the 4,811 academics and 40,000 teachers who were dismissed by emergency decree following the coup attempt of July 15, 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 the dismissal and imprisonment of tens of thousands of 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 7,000 academics, and shutting down 15 of the 193 universities in country. This has all occurred since the failed coup attempt in July 2016.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide condemns these actions and is also concerned about the health of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça. Given the most recent developments, ESW is obliged to call attention to the urgency of the situation and to 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.