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Third hearing of trial of academic Nuriye Gülmen and teacher Semih Özakça, who have been on hunger strike for 226 days to be reinstated to their jobs and in detention on remand, and teacher Acun Karadağ was held today.
The court has ruled release of Özakça and continuation of arrest of Gülmnen.
The court also ordered Gülmen to be brought to the next hearing but Numune Hospital where Gülmen is treated doesn’t allow it due to her medical condition.
Gülmen wasn’t taken from Numune Hospital due to her medical condition to the trial held by Ankara 19th Heavy Penal Court.
The court committee had gone to the hospital since Gülmen can’t come to the courtroom. In her speech, Gülmen said that she wouldn’t give her deposition until she went to the courtroom.
Eyewitness: I don’t know if they have any links to an organization
Eyewitness Berk Ercan attended the hearing via Sound and Video Information System.
Ercan said he doesn’t have any information regarding organization membership:
“I saw Semih Özakça once or twice, I have no information. I don’t know if Özakça and Karadağ have any links to an organization. I know Nuriye Gülmen from İstanbul. I stayed at her apartment but don’t know the address. I didn’t have any phone contact with Nuriye. I don’t have a direct information about the hunger strikes. I saw Semih once or twice at a park. I don’t have any other information”.
Özakça: My diary is included in the file because the file is empty
In his statement for defense, Semih Özakça said:
“I was in the army at the time when Berk Ercan said to have seen me. I went to Horasan, Erzurum as soon as I returned from the army. I went to İstanbul after having married in 2015-2016. I don’t know the eyewitness.
“There is no solid evidence. The only charge is my statement for press I issued on Yüksel Street. The diary I kept in prison is included in your file because the file is empty.
“We did everything and then have gone on a hunger strike”.
Lawyer Yılmaz: Nuriye and Semih are not running away
One of the defendants’ lawyers Murat Yılmaz said, “The file is so empty that the government has started to send documents to the court”.
Yılmaz spoke on Gülmen’s condition:
“Your committee saw Nuriye. She wants to make her statement for defense. She stayed under intensive care for 15 days despite the verdict by the ECtHR (European Court of Human Rights). They are placing her in dark wards”.
Demanding their release, Yılmaz said, “Nuriye and Semih are not running away”.
Lawyer Eminağaoğlu: Going on hunger strike is not a crime
Lawyer Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu said:
“You’ve asked the defendant whether she went on hunger strike upon an order coming from an organization. Going on hunger strike is not a crime. Previously, there were hunger strikes upon organization order and no punishment was imposed.
“Hunger strike is not a crime even if it is carried out on behalf of an organization”.
“They are being tried because they’ve chosen to resist”
Lawyer Betül Vangölü Kozağaçlı said her clients have started a resistance and that is why they are being tried:
“They have chosen to resist, that is why they are being tried”.
About Gülmen and Özakça
Nuriye Gülmen was employed at Eskişehir Osmangazi University.
After her contract was not renewed, she brought a lawsuit and won. Seven months later, she started to work at Selçuk University. A day after she started her job, she was suspended from her duty based on the "FETÖ-PDY (Fethullahist Terror Organization-Parallel State Structure) investigation launched into her. She was discharged on January 6, 2017 via the Statutory Decree No. 679.
Semih Özakça was a classroom teacher at Mazıdağı Cumhuriyet Primary School in Mardin. He was discharged via the Statutory Decree No. 675 over "being linked with terror organizations".
Gülmen has been in front of Human Rights Monument on Yüksel Street in the heart of Turkey's capital city of Ankara to stage a sit-in since November 9, 2016 and Özakça since November 23, 2016.
Acun Karadağ was discharged from his job on September 29, 2016 through the Statutory Decree No. 675. He has been taken into custody several times during his protest with the slogan "I want my students" held in front of his old school. He later joined the protesters in Yüksel Street who had also been discharged through statutory decrees under the State of Emergency.
On hunger strike since March 9, 2017
On March 9, Gülmen and Özakça were taken into custody and went on a permanent non—rotational hunger strike in detention.
During their resistance protest that they started in front of Human Rights Monument on Yüksel Street in Ankara, they have been detained and released several times.
On May 22, they were detained for the last time and arrested on the next day. They have been continuing their hunger strike in prison since their arrest on May 23.
On July 8, 2017, they were transferred to Sincan Prison Campus State Hospital that is located outside of Ankara after spending 46 days behind bars where they continued their hunger strike.
On September 15, the first hearing was held without the presence of the defendants as the gendarmerie refused to bring them to the court due to "health and security reasons". The court ruled that Gülmen and Özakça remain further in detention on remand.
On September 26, Gülmen was taken from Sincan Prison Campus Hospital on the 202th day of her hunger strike and was brought to intensive care unit at the Numune Hospital located at a central part of Ankara.
On September 28, second hearing of the trial was held. Gülmen was kept in intenstive care and was not brought to trial. Court ruled that Gülmen and Özakça remain in detention on remand. (AS/TK)
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