The Ankara Governor’s Office announced on Tuesday that all protest activities in support of imprisoned hunger striker educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça has been banned for a period of one month, the Birgün daily reported.
According to a statement released by the governor’s office on Wednesday, Turkish intelligence (MIT) “warned” the governor’s office that sit-in protests and hunger strikes would be organized in the parks to protest the arrest of Gülmen and Özakça. The statement therefore said all types of protest activities including sit-ins, hunger strikes, concerts and similar gatherings have been prohibited for a period of 30 days to protect public order.
According to the governor’s office, these types of protests and gatherings in the parks “disturb other people due to the hot weather” and that terrorist organizations could organize attacks against civilians and protesters.
Gülmen and Özakça, who were on the 76th day of a hunger strike when they were arrested on terror charges on May 23 in Ankara, have been protesting their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws issued after a failed coup in Turkey last year.
Gülmen was fired from Konya Selçuk University for her alleged ties to the Gülen group. Özakça was a teacher at a primary school in Turkey’s eastern province of Mardin before he was purged over alleged membership in the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and “disseminating propaganda of this terror organization.”
An indictment, drafted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, charging Gülmen and Özakça seeks a jail sentence of up to 20 years for each. It is claimed that Gülmen and Özakça’s “hunger strike has strayed from being an innocent search for a right and turned into an activity to recruit new members to the terror organization.”
The document says if Gülmen and Özakça’s medical conditions deteriorate with the continuation of the hunger strike, the state will be held responsible for this and protests will be launched similar to the Gezi protests of 2013.
The Gezi protests took place in the summer of 2013 due to government plans to demolish a park in İstanbul’s Taksim neighborhood. The protests, which were sparked out of environmental concerns in Taksim, turned into anti-government protests across the country.
On July 26, Selçuk Kozağaçlı, the lawyer for Gülmen and Özakça, told Turkish media that the two will end their hunger strike when they feel their voices are being heard.
“They are not trying to die. They are on a hunger strike to strengthen their voices. When they feel that their voices have been heard they will end it. That is my opinion. Unfortunately their health is related to the number of days they have been hungry. It has been a very long time. And there are all kinds of dangers and problems that can be expected from being hungry for such a long time. They are using wheelchairs; they are not able to walk without help. They have pain. They are conscious; they are able to meet with their lawyers, doctors and families.” Kozağaçlı said.