Turkish Hunger Striker Convicted by Court, But Released

A hunger striker, who captured public imagination with her stubborn and tenacious resistance to the government purge during emergency rule, has been finally released from prison on Saturday.

Nuriye Gulmen, a university academic, was sacked by an emergency decree as part of a wider purge to cleanse the universities of government critics late last year. She was imprisoned by authorities this summer when she launched a hunger strike and inspired nation-wide sit-in protests in metropolitan cities.

On Friday, an Ankara court sentenced her to six years and three months in prison over “links” to an outlawed the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). But she was released pending an appeal.

Another fellow hunger striker, Semih Ozakca, a school teacher, had previously been acquitted of a similar charge. The two names strictly reject any link to the far-left group, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and E.U.

The duo inspired a dispirited community of academics and public workers who were caught by government purge in civil service and bureaucracy to launch public protests to regain their jobs.

Their peaceful gathering in Ankara’s Guven Park was systematically and repeatedly broken by anti-riot police.

More than 150,000 public servants have lost their jobs in government dismissals.

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