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Following the increasing solidarity, on May 22, in the small hours, Nuriye and Semih were taken into custody from their home by forced entry, with a charge of “Attempt to create a resistance such as Gezi and Tekel”
Today is May 27, it is the 200th day of the resistance which Nuriye Gülmen started and which was enhanced by Semih Özakça’s engagement afterward. Nuriye and Semih have been on hunger strike for 80 days and they were imprisoned 4 days ago.
After being purged by the government’s KHK (Decree Law Order), academic Nuriye Gülmen started her sit-in strike by saying “I want my job back” in front of the Human Rights Monument at the Yüksel Avenue.
Semih Özakça, elementary school teacher in Mardin, who was purged similar to Nuriye’s purge and he joined the struggle, thereby growing their resistance raided by police 30 times at Yüksel Avenue. Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça were taken into custody and released afterward, respectively 28 and 16 times.
Gülmen and Özakça who have been on hunger strike by saying “we want our jobs back” are now arrested for 4 days and their comrade Human Rights Monument blocked by police for 5 days.
Nuriye Gülmen started alone
After the coup d’état on 15th July described by Erdoğan as “a favor from Allah”, more than 100 thousand public workers were purged from their job. One of them, Nuriye Gülmen started her resistance alone on 9 November 2016. Gülmen was taken into custody when she wanted to do sit-in protest in front of the Human Rights Monument. Gülmen declared that she would continue her sit-in protest every day and since then she was taken into custody nearly every day.
In the following days, other purged public laborers joined Gülmen’s resistance. Sit in protests hence grew and continued with Veli Saçılık who lost one arm under the fallen walls during the government’s prison operation (also ironically called as “Return to Life” operation) which was carried out with bulldozer and who, after years, was purged from his work at public sector by KHK, and with purged teachers Acun Karadağ and Semih Özakça (from Mardin) as well as Esra Özakça who is also Semih’s partner.
They forced the police to retreat
Taken into custody nearly every day, Nuriye and Semih persisted in their sit-in protest and hence forced the police to retreat. On 28 November 2016, Gülmen announced they won their “protest right” via twitter by saying “We are sitting in for 2 hours, our persistence gave result. We are so happy. We’ll gain victory. We didn’t surrender, we won’t surrender”.
They started Hunger Strike during custody
Nuriye and Semih, who won their “protest right” and continued to resist for their work, they made a press statement on 9 March in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. When they were leaving the Parliament, they were taken into custody and they were detained for 5 days. In their press statement at the Parliament, they announced they’ll start their hunger strike at March 11 but practically they started at March 9.
After being released from custody, they continued their protest for 24 hours at the Human Rights Monument. On March 17, the police attacked again and they were detained once again along with seven others.
Resistance grew in front of Human Rights Monument
On May 8, at the 62nd day of their hunger strike, Nuriye Gülmen felt faint and went home to rest. Gülmen’s images in which she was seen deteriorating created a growing public interest. The next days, supporters of Nuriye and Semih started to come to Yüksel Avenue. Deputies from CHP and HDP also visited for support them. The Human Rights Monument have been filled with the supporters of Nuriye and Semih until the day it was blocked by police.
After the growing public reaction, police attacked three times people who sit down at the Monument. Police waited the midnight or the early morning hours to raid; they detained those who were waiting at the monument and also removing away the flowers brought for Nuriye and Semih.
They were arrested under the pretext of “They will create a resistance such as Gezi and Tekel”
On May 23, Nuriye and Semih were arrested and sent to Sincan Prison. In their first visit after being arrested, they informed their lawyers that their health and morale were good.
What AKP Says?
First statement from the Government came on May 11. Answering a question about Nuriye and Semih, the Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said “I didn’t know, are they in prison?”
Afterward, on May 19, Said Yüce, deputy from AKP, said “there is no place for hunger strike in religon”.
After KHK oppressions were announced to the world with this resistance, the Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu has allegedly “discovered” that the two educational laborers who were continuing their peaceful protests for months in the middle of the capital city, were “terrorist” and he said “We do not send our children to the school to get them educated as terrorist.” about Nuriye and Semih’ arrestation.
Kızılay is under blockade
All the roads leading to the Human Rights Monument, located on the busiest streets of Kızılay were blocked by police on the day Nuriye and Semih were taken into custody.
On May 25, Nuriye Gülmen sent a letter from Sincan Prison and made a call to her supporters: “Do not leave Yüksel Avenue unattended!”
The Human Rights Monument in Yüksel Avenue is still surrounded by police barriers. Acun Karadağ ve Veli Saçılık are doing sit-in protest in front of the police barricade with the same slogan, “we want our jobs back”. Deputies from CHP described the situation as “Turkey became a prison” and they vowed “As prisoners, we’ll pace back and forth in front of the barricade “.
How was Nuriye Gülmen purged?
Nuriye Gülmen is a member of the Eğitim-Sen (Education and Science Workers Union). Shortly after starting her job in Konya, Selçuk University on 2012, she was voluntarily transferred to Eskişehir Osmangazi University. The police and the university council opened investigation, gave suspension many times under the pretext that she attended protests for Berkin Elvan, Ali İsmail Korkmaz and Kobane and she joined her union’s press declarations and finally she was fired. She was accused for “being associated with leftist terrorist organizations” but she acquitted.
She was permitted to take her job back on April 2016 but she couldn’t start her job because of hassle of the YÖK (Council of Higher Education) and universities that she worked. Her place of duty was changed regularly between Eskişehir and Konya. After the attempted coup d’état on May 15, she was first suspended with an alleged “link to theconservative terrorist organization (FETO: Terrorist Organization of Fethullah’s Followers)”, then she was purged with KHK on the 60th day of her resistance.
Translated by Emre Zülfikar, Redacted by Evrim Şaşmaz