Turkish teachers end hunger strike, to go to court to get jobs back

FILE PHOTO: Hunger-striking literature professor Nuriye Gulmen speaks during an interview with Reuters at her home in Ankara, Turkey, December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Two Turkish teachers ended an almost 11-month hunger strike on Friday, vowing legal action to get their jobs back after their appeal against dismissal under the government’s state of emergency decree was rejected.

Their case was thrown out by the emergency commission that was formed to evaluate government decisions taken as part of a security crackdown following a 2016 coup attempt. More than 150,000 people have since lost their jobs.

After going on hunger strike and staging protests against the purges, literature professor Nuriye Gulmen was arrested in May and later convicted of belonging to an outlawed militant leftist group, a charge she denies. The reasons for the firing of primary school teacher Semih Ozakca were not given.

“Today the commission rejected our appeal, but we will take it to the court. As of today we are ending our hunger strike, but our resistance will continue,” Gulmen said.

A medical doctors group said last week Gulmen and Ozakca were experiencing serious health problems due to their diet of water, herbal tea, sugar and salt solutions.

Gulmen weighed 59 kg (130 pounds) before the strike and is now under 34 kg (75 pounds) while Ozakça has gone from 86 kg to 45 kg (189 to 100 pounds), according to the Ankara doctors’ chamber.