Lawyers of two detained Turkish educators arrested ahead of first hearing

nsnbc : All seventeen lawyers, of two imprisoned and hunger-striking educators accused of being members of a terrorist organization, have been detained two days before the first hearing of the case.

Gülmen_Ozaca_Turkey_Sep 2017The 17 lawyers from the People’s Law Office (Halkın Hukuk Bürosu) were taken into custody after simultaneous operations on early September 12. Operations and arrests were made across five cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, following a warrant from the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office also accusing the lawyers of “being members of a terrorist organization.”

The two accused, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça began their hunger strike in April 2017 after being dismissed from their jobs with state of emergency. They were demanding to be reinstated to their jobs. Gülmen and Özaca were arrested on May 23, on the 75th day of their hunger strike, on terror charges. Esra Özakça, Semih Özakca’s wife, said all lawyers in the case were taken into custody two days before the educators’ hearings, to be held on September 14 at the Ankara 19th Heavy Criminal Court.

“Shortly before their first hearing, they were left without lawyers amid an already existing restriction on lawyer visits,” Esra Özakça said on the 114th day of her hunger strike, which she began to be in solidarity with the two educators. “They were the lawyers who followed the case since the beginning. Somebody will surely defend Nuriye and Semih,” she added. Özakça stressed that the detainees’ health conditions were deteriorating seriously, as she also suffers from ailing health.

“He [Semih] is curious to how justice will be executed,” she said, after her visit to Sincan prison infirmary, where the teacher and the academic were put in after their condition reached a critical stage.  “He told me that his eye vision was going out of focus; he suffers from ringing in the ears and insomnia. He told me that his sleep was often interrupted by wardens in order to make sure that he is conscious,” she added. “He said the case is about justice and called on everybody to attend the first hearing,” she said.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu previously claimed that Gülmen and Özakça had “organic ties” with the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party – Front (DHKP-C). Ironically, the DHKP-C is best known for “spectacular” militant actions which usually fail to achieve stated goals while they justify further crackdowns against other dissident groups. A link between the two accused and the DHKP-C has thus far not been credibly established.

F/AK – nsnbc 13.09.2017

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