The struggle of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça and the resistance on Yüksel Boulevard in Ankara

In times when everyone was silent, they became the voice of the people

Following the military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the fascist AKP power declared a state of emergency throughout Turkey to legitimize its fascism. With the decree-laws(in Turkish Kanun Hükmünde Kararname, or KHK for short) issued during the state of emergency, the fascist oligarchy fired hundreds of revolutionary, democratic, and progressive workers, including university professors, teachers, and civil servants. University lecturer Nuriye Gülmen and teacher Semih Özakça were among the thousands of their colleagues who were dismissed and fired from their workplaces. Some chose to wait to see what would happen, but they had no intention of waiting. To defend their rights, they took to the streets and squares and fought courageously.

Some wondered, “Can a man fight alone?” Nuriye Gülmen has shown that this is possible. Then Semih Özakça said, “That’s enough!” And joined the caravan of the resistance. The resistance was growing rapidly. Not only in front of the human rights monument on Yuksel Boulevard in the center of the capital city Ankara, but protests also appeared on the squares across Turkey. Messages of solidarity and support began to arrive from all over the world. The AKP’s fascist power continued to attack. Nuriye Gülmen, Semih Özakça, and hundreds of their supporters have been detained by police dozens of times.

The demands of the resistance

1-The State of Emergency must be canceled

2-Progressive civil servants who have been removed or dismissed from their jobs must be reinstated.

3- Arbitrary and illegal dismissals of civil servants must be stopped

4-The labor rights of 13,000 Research Associates must be restored as part of the University Research Associates Training Program.

5-Without labor rights there is no way to do science, there is no way to teach, we want labor rights for research associates, lecturers, and teachers.

A brief chronology of the resistance

-November 9, 2016: Resistance begins. After failing to achieve the desired result from the meetings she held with other university lecturers, who had been fired just like her, Nuriye Gülmen decided to start the resistance herself. In the first moments of the protest, before she could be able to tell the reason for the action, Gülmen was surrounded by dozens of police and detained. And this was repeated for days.

-March 9, 2017: The hunger strike began. On March 9, during a press conference, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça announced that they would go on a hunger strike on March 11. Almost immediately after the press conference, they were detained by the police. Continuing in the form of a hunger strike, the resistance managed to stop the wave of fear created by fascism that gripped the people.

-May 23, 2017: Nuriye and Semih were imprisoned. The fascist power of the AKP showed its helplessness in the face of resistance by raiding the home where Nuriye and Semih were continuing their hunger strike and arresting them. Then they were on the 75th day of the hunger strike. The same day, Semih’s wife, Esra Özakça, went on a hunger strike to support their demands.

-July 22, 2017: The Minister of the Interior, Süleyman Soylu, presented a brochure denigrating Nuriye and Semih. The AKP’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, told the media that Nuriye and Semih’s hunger strike was fake and that they were secretly eating. He was not only satisfied with this but also ordered his employees to prepare and publish a brochure about the two, which was published in Turkish and English. But no one believed these lies. In the motives for imposing a permanent detention measure, the fascist power of the AKP acknowledged its greatest fear. The indictment against Nuriye and Semih said that if the two died during the hunger strike, an armed attack would be carried out, and their deaths would be used to legitimize an eventual armed attack. The fascist oligarchy also claimed that if the resistance of Nuriye and Semih continued and grew, it could turn into a new revolt like the one which began in the summer of 2013, with the protests for Gezi Park. This was the reason why the fascist power threw them in prison. This prompted the fascist oligarchy to block the perimeter around the human rights monument on Yuksel avenue in Ankara, and in this way, the monument was also “imprisoned” like Nuriye and Semih.

-25 September 2017: Nuriye Gülmen was taken to the intensive care unit of Numune Hospital in Ankara. Nuriye, whose health was deteriorating with each passing day, was taken to the intensive care unit. But this was a pretext for being subjected to forced medical intervention(forced feeding, it is actually, a brutal method of torture, which aims to end the hunger strike). However, she clearly and categorically stated her position with the words: “I am not your patient, I’m not sick, but a hunger strike resister!”

-On October 20, 2017: Semih Özakça was released from prison, and on December 1, 2017, from the cell in the ward for political prisoners of Numune Hospital in Ankara, was released Nuriye Gülmen. Two days before the start of the trial against the two, which was to begin on September 14, September 12, 2017, the lawyers from the People’s Law Bureau, who defended Nuriye and Semih before the court, were arrested. This attack, which aimed to leave them without legal protection, failed. In their defense speeches, Nuriye and Semih condemned fascism and defended their righteousness.

-26 January 2018: The hunger strike was ended on the 324th day of its beginning, and a political victory was declared. The Commission of Inquiry into the state of emergency has announced that it will not return Nuriye and Semih to their jobs. Following this announcement, the hunger strike was ended.

The resistance on Yüksel Boulevard in Ankara would not end, with the end of the hunger strike. After the end of the hunger strike, twice a day, the protesters went out on the boulevard and held protest actions in which they stated their demands. The participants in the resistance on Yüksel Boulevard were detained and tortured by the police during each protest action. The resistance continued to win new positions. The Yüksel School of Resistance began to teach lessons, the Council of Yüksel Boulevard Protesters was founded, and later the Council of Resistance was established to unite all those fighting against injustice in Turkey.

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