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Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler on the situation in Turkey

13.06.2017

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (13 June):

The literature professor Nuriye Gülmen and the teacher Semih Özakça were arrested on 22 May and are currently in the 94th day of a hunger strike(1). Their action can be seen as a symbolic protest against the dismissal of well over 100,000 Turkish civil servants since a state of emergency was declared on 21 July 2016.

With their hunger strike, they are expressing the powerlessness felt by many who have been affected. The dismissals are not subject to judicial review. A government commission that was established for this purpose in January has still not taken up its duties – despite statements to the contrary by the Turkish Government. Without case reviews, the dismissed have been labelled suspected terrorists and are subject to stigmatisation. Countless former civil servants and their families face financial ruin. Until their cases are reviewed and they have a chance to be rehabilitated, they are in effect prevented from re-entering the labour market in Turkey.

Against this backdrop, I call on the Turkish Government to give all those dismissed an early review of their cases, based on due process, so that the allegations made against each individual can be carefully examined. As a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey has promised to uphold the right to a fair trial. This must also apply to all legal proceedings in the aftermath of the internationally condemned attempted coup.

(1) Gülmen and Özakça commenced their hunger strike on 11 March 2017, well before their arrest on 22 May 2017

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