Nuriye Gulmen (Scholar) and Semih Ozakca (Primary School Teacher) were dismissed from academic positions in November 2016 and began protesting their dismissal. In March 2017 they began a hunger strike and two months later were charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” and “propaganda for a terrorist organization.” CCS understands that, due to their hunger strike, their health has seriously deteriorated and they require medical attention. CCS urges Turkish authorities to release both Gulmen and Ozakca.
July 20, 2017
Mr. Bekir Bozdağ
Minister of Justice
06659 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 (0)312 419 33 70
Dear Minister Bozdağ:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern for scholar Nuriye Gülmen and primary school teacher Semih Özakça. They have been detained at Sincan prison since May 23, solely for exercising their right to peaceful protest. We are concerned that their health is “deteriorating rapidly” due to their ongoing hunger strike. It has been reported that they have become “so weak that their mobility has been severely affected.”
Both were dismissed from their jobs in November 2016, with no reason given, and have since been protesting that dismissal, as is their right. They began their hunger strike on March 9, and two months later were indicted on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
They are two of the over 100,000 public sector workers, many of them academics, who have been fired from their jobs without cause or explanation. As scientists and scholars, we are profoundly concerned with the treatment of academics, as well as the widespread disregard for basic human rights. We urge you to release Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça without conditions and without delay, and allow them their fundamental right to peacefully protest and expression of their beliefs.
We also urge you to ensure that they receive any necessary medical treatment from independent medical professionals.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador Serdar Kiliç
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington DC 20008
Phone: 1 202 612 6700 or 1 202 612 6701
Fax: 1 202 612 6744