ANKARA, Turkey — A Turkish court has placed under arrest on terror charges an academic and a teacher who have been on a long hunger strike to protest against their dismissal in a purge after last year’s failed coup, reports said.
Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca were remanded in custody ahead of trial by an Ankara court late Tuesday on charges of “membership of a terror organization,” the NTV and CNN-Turk channels said. They had initially been detained on Monday.
Both were sacked under the state of emergency imposed after the July 15 attempted coup seeking to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that has seen tens of thousands lose their jobs.
Former primary school teacher Ozakca and academic Gulmen began their hunger strike two-and-a-half months ago and have been surviving on water alone.
In a video published as they attended their court hearing, the pair said they were determined to continue their struggle.
“We will continue our fight until we are victorious,” said Ozakca.
“For us, the resistance will continue in prison. I invite everyone to continue the resistance outside,” said Gulmen.
A protest in their support Tuesday afternoon in Ankara was violently dispersed by the police, with several people arrested.
Some reports indicated they were accused of membership of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), an outlawed Marxist group.
Over 100,000 people from the public sector including judges, teachers, doctors and members of the armed forces have been dismissed in a series of purges criticized by the West and human rights activists.
Amnesty International criticized the “arbitrary dismissals” in a report released Monday, calling on the Turkish government to set up a “prompt and effective appeal mechanism” for those dismissed.