Court orders hunger-striking academic Nuriye Gülmen to stay in jail

Although the prosecutor demanded the release of hunger-striking academic Nuriye Gülmen, a Turkish court ruled the continuation of detention for Gülmen at the fifth hearing of the case
Monday, 27 November 2017 21:04

An Ankara court on Monday ordered academic Nuriye Gülmen, who has been on hunger strike for months to protest about losing her job in the government's purge since a failed coup attempt last year, to remain in prison despite the prosecutor's call for release.

The prosecutor demanded the release of Gülmen on the ground that "there is no escape the suspicion" and "no possibility to obfuscate the evidence". The decision to keep Gülmen, on trial over terror charges, in jail comes after last month's release of teacher Semih Özakça who is also on hunger strike and facing similar charges.

Authorities transferred Gülmen into intensive care in September but her family said this was against her will. Giving her defence by video link from her hospital room, Gülmen said her right to defence had been violated in the case. 

"In order to defend myself effectively, I want to be released and I want to give my defence statement in the hearing myself. I do not expect a favour from you; I just want you to practice the general principles of law," Gülmen said.

"I have experienced a process that is like torture. I have been here [at Numune Hospital] for two months," she added.

The hearing was adjourned to Dec. 1, 2017.

There are concerns over the health of hunger strikers who are only consuming salty or sugary water, herbal tea and vitamin B1. They have been on hunger strike for 264 days.

Primary school teacher Semih Özakça and academic Nuriye Gülmen have been on hunger strike over their sacking by government decree under the state of emergency imposed after last year's attempted overthrow of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

After their dismissal in late 2016, Gülmen and Özakça protested daily in central Ankara, then began a hunger strike on March 9. They were detained in May over alleged links to the militant leftist DHKP-C group, deemed a terrorist organisation by Turkey. The Turkish government targeted them because of their protest and hunger strike.

Özakca was released on October 20 but was ordered to remain at home and only allowed outside for any approved hospital visits or to attend court hearings.