We would like to start by thanking you for standing with us in the rightful struggle of Nuriye and Semih. You have sent us countless support messages, videos and photos; signed petitions for them. All of these efforts have proven that you stand in solidarity with the people who seek justice in Turkey. Your support has contributed to Nuriye and Semih’s determination and resistance. It has created worldwide attention. This international support helps them stand strong in the isolated rooms of the prison hospital where they are being held.
Nuriye and Semih are continuing their hunger strike to seek justice against the ongoing, widespread purges by the government of Turkey enabled by a state of emergency. They began their resistance to demand reinstatement to their jobs and were imprisoned on the 75th day of their hunger strike. Their indictment is not based on any solid evidence; the only claims against them is that unless they are imprisoned they may ‘constitute a threat to the process of justice’. They have been subjected to torture and neglect since the day they were arrested and continue to face systematic abuse. One example is that although all other prisoners are allowed to take and send photographs, Nuriye and Semih are banned from doing so. The authorities want them to be forgotten by preventing their photos from being disseminated.
An application asking for the release of Nuriye and Semih was made to the ECHR declaring that “Prison conditions are not suitable for their health.” Despite the latest health report published by a committee of doctors stating that ‘Their health conditions are at a critical stage and their continued imprisonment poses life-threatening danger’, the ECHR refused the application on August 2nd, 2017 claiming that their condition is not critical. After the ECHR ruling, the government of Turkey put Nuriye and Semih in hospital rooms within the prison with no access to sunlight or ventilation. Even though it was the 142th day of their hunger strike, they were brought into these ‘rooms’ by force and were beaten up during the transportation process. Their visitations with lawyers, family members were limited as were their rights to phone calls. According to the ECHR ruling, companions are permitted for inmates in the prison hospital. They also have the right to be examined by their own doctors. However, Nuriye and Semih were left alone to care for themselves in the prison hospital for 17 days and were not allowed to be examined by their own doctors. After a 17-day struggle by their families and lawyers they finally received their rights to have a companion. Their doctors were only allowed to visit them, but they were not given permission to examine them. The doctors were told to convince the hunger strikers to end their strike.
Everyday Nuriye and Semih are threatened with forced medical intervention. They are woken up at all hours and asked, ‘Are you alive?’ ‘Are you conscious?’ The latest tactic to repress the resistance has been to ban saying the names of Nuriye and Semih in public places and during protests. People who are continuing to use their democratic right to protest and to support Nuriye and Semih are routinely faced with police brutality; they are physically attacked, sprayed with water cannons and tear gas, shot at with rubber bullets. 3 people’s arms were broken by the police, many of the supporters and Yüksel resisters are repeatedly detained and tortured; some have been placed under house arrest, others have been arrested and remain in prison.
Nuriye and Semih have passed the 160-day mark of their hunger strike. The trial date set by the judicial authority of the Turkish government is September 14th, 2017. Nuriye and Semih are calling out to you from their ‘rooms’ where they are kept under isolation within isolation! We ask that you do not leave them alone during the trial. If possible, come to the trial. Let Nuriye and Semih and the people who are supporting them and resisting state violence know that they are not alone. Their struggle and this trial is very important for the history of democratic struggle of the people of Turkey and the world. Your presence will empower us in this legitimate struggle against the unjust purges in Turkey and our demand for justice. Please lend your voice to our struggle! Let’s join together for the trial!
The families of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça