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Issue #1781      June 14, 2017

Solidarity with Turkish hunger-strikers

Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça just want their jobs back

The Turkish government has imposed a state of emergency following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Tens of thousands of workers in civil service, academia, police, military and judiciary have been dismissed without evidence of participation in the coup, or links to the plotters. The ensuing purge quickly turned into a witch-hunt.

Amnesty International’s report published on May 22 describes the purges which affected 110,000 people as “professional annihilation” – “Those dismissed faced social stigma and marginalisation and have lost their pensions and passports. They have been living off savings or handouts from relatives or trade unions or working in the informal economy.”

Amnesty’s report said the arbitrary nature of the operation suggested “widespread abusive and discriminatory motives behind the purge”.

Nuriye Gülmen, postdoctoral student of comparative literature and lecturer, and Semih Özakça, a primary school teacher, are among many who have lost their jobs. They are accused of links to FETO-PDY (the Turkish government’s name for an organisation run by Fetullah Gülen, the US-based Turkish cleric blamed as the mastermind behind the latest coup).

They have been protesting in front of the human rights memorial (ironically, a woman reading the universal declaration of human rights) in Ankara since the 9th of November.

They demand that the state of emergency be abolished, that public servants return to their jobs, and an end to illegal arbitrary redundancies with the reassurance of job guarantees for 13,000 research assistants who are ÖYP (Faculty Development Program) members.

CNN International has referred to Gülmen as one of the eight leading women of 2016.

Gülmen and Özakça were arrested and released numerous times during the sit-in, each time resuming their protest. They turned their sit-in into a hunger strike on March 10. They were arrested on the 74th day of their hunger strike.

We urge Australian human rights organisations, universities and teachers’ unions to participate in the international solidarity network for Gülmen and Özakça.

Solidarity with Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça – Sydney Committee

Next article – Adani mega-mine – “No means No!”

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