76-year-old Abdullah Nefes and 73-year-old Selah Özakın, the two veteran Turkish poets are set to kick off a hunger strike on May 29, protesting the recent arrests of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakaça, two dismissed educators who were imprisoned on the 76th day of their own hunger strike this week.
Gülmen was fired from Konya Selçuk University for her alleged ties to the Gülen movement. Özakça was a teacher at a primary school in Turkey’s eastern province of Mardin before he was purged over ties to a terrorist organization.
Arrested on Tuesday, the two educators are accused of “attempting to destroy the unity of the state and nation” and “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” The pair protested their dismissals for months in the same area of Ankara before they started their hunger strike.
“We are two old poets,” Özakın told Karınca online news portal saying that he did not think twice when he first saw Nefes’s call for hunger strike.
Özakın added: “We are concern that these children were blatantly left to die.”
Poets’s stike will start at Abbasağa Park in Istanbul’s Besiktas distict at 13.00 pm, Monday.
Thousands of academics and teachers have been removed from their jobs since the July 15 coup attempt as part of a post-coup purge launched by the government under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.