First Published: 2017-09-12

Turkey arrests lawyers representing teachers on hunger strike
Lawyers backing detained teachers, on hunger strike for six months after unfair dismissals, are arrested on ‘terror’ charges.
Middle East Online

People protest arrest of hunger-striking teachers

ANKARA - Turkish authorities on Tuesday detained on "terror" charges at least 15 lawyers from the legal association representing two imprisoned teachers on a hunger strike to protest their sacking in an ongoing purge.

The detention of the lawyers from the Office of People's Rights (HHB) comes two days before academic Nuriye Gulmen and teacher Semih Ozakca, who have been on a hunger strike for six months, were themselves due to go on trial on terror charges.

The pair, along with thousands of other education workers, were fired by a government decree under the state of emergency imposed after the failed July 15 coup attempt last year.

On March 9, they went on a hunger strike to challenge their dismissal and were arrested in May on charges of membership of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), an outlawed Marxist group that has carried out sporadic attacks.

Fifteen lawyers from the HHB were detained in raids in Ankara and Istanbul, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. They are accused of membership of the DHKP-C.

Another lawyer from the office, Anil Arman Akkus, told AFP that 18 lawyers were targeted by arrest warrants and at least 13 were detained, but the office had no news of the five others.

The campaign of Gulmen and Ozakca -- which they dubbed "hungry for jobs" -- has become a symbol for government critics who feel thousands have been unjustly swept up in the post-coup crackdown.

Protests in their support continue every day in the capital Ankara with their trial scheduled to get under way on Thursday.

Akkus said those detained were the "engine" of the defence team.

"This attack is aimed at making us give up," said Esra Ozakca, Semih's wife, who has herself been on hunger strike since the arrest of her husband and also under house arrest since July 13.

The pair will "not be without lawyers", she said, calling for a strong turnout at the opening of the trial.

There have been growing fears for the health of the pair, who are only consuming salty or sugary water, herbal teas and vitamin B1.

Under the state of emergency imposed a few days after the failed coup, Turkish authorities fired judges, civil servants, teachers and academics, accusing them of being supporters of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Ankara accuses Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania, of ordering the failed putsch. Gulen strongly denies the charges.

 

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Two hardline Syria rebels announce merger

IS kills 25 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk

Sudan frees dozens of activists detained after protests

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"

Turkey releases leading pro-Kurdish politician

5 Iranian police killed in Sufi protests

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

Israel’s gas contract with Egypt: deal or no deal?

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt

Are Iranian satellite channels aiding regime change?

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes after rocket attack

Iraq orders deportation of French jihadist

Pro-Assad militias to enter Syria's Afrin

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon

Iran's supreme leader says progress needed on justice

Syria Kurds claim striking positions in Turkey

Netanyahu warns Iran, brandishes piece of metal

66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iranian mountains

Saudi women to open businesses without male permission

Netanyahu slams 'outrageous' Holocaust remark by Polish PM

Israeli air strikes kill 2 in Gaza

Six suffer breathing difficulties after Turkish shelling in Afrin

Russian mercenaries - a discrete weapon in Syria

Iran protests ban on wrestler who threw bout to avoid Israel

Fears of expanding Syrian war could trigger peace deal

Battle to free Mosul of IS 'intellectual terrorism'

Turkey frees Garman-Turk journalist after one year without charge

Turkey hands life sentences to 3 journalists for Gulen links

Turkey, US agree to ‘work together’ in Syria

Thousands protest corruption in Tel Aviv amid PM indictment call

Prominent jihadist commander killed by rival Syria rebels

300 Russians killed in Syria battle last week