18 people were detained in central Ankara on Wednesday after police launched a raid on the hunger strike protest by purged academic Nuriye Gulmen and teacher Semih Ozakca, which Kom News has been covering.
Police sources said the raid had occurred because protestors lit a fire on Ankara’s main Yuksel Avenue, where Gulmen and Ozakca have been protesting for 191 days.
The academic and teacher were dismissed from their jobs by government decree law last year and evolved their sit-in protest into a hunger strike and have not had any intake of food for 71 days.
Protestors said police had used the fire, which was lit to warm them, as a pretext for attacking those attending in solidarity. Witnesses told Turkish daily Evrensel that police had tortured those detained after attacking the crowd four times.
— bianet (@bianet_org) May 18, 2017
One of the people detained, Veli Sacilik, condemned the arrests on his personal Twitter account writing:
“We lit a smile fire in a metal can to warm up and we’re still in detention. I leave judgement to public opinion.”
It has been reported that Semih Ozakca’s wife Esra Ozakca is also one of the people who was detained.
The hunger strikers’ health is rapidly deteriorating as they have passed the “critical threshold” health organisations have said.
— Seyri Sokak (@seyrisokak) May 18, 2017
Several opposition party lawmakers have called on the government to take action to end the hunger strike.
Gulmen and Ozakca are demanding reinstatement to their jobs for thousands of people purged following last July’s coup attempt.