Trial opens in Turkey against 2 hunger-striking teachers

AP News
Posted: Sep 14, 2017 9:15 AM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish police have detained 24 protesters outside a courthouse where two dismissed public employees, who had launched a hunger strike, are on trial on terror charges. 

The protesters were taken into custody Thursday following clashes with police when the group attempted to make a statement to the press in front of the courthouse to denounce the pair's arrest.

Academic Nuriye Gulmen and teacher Semih Ozakca were detained in May on the 76th day of their hunger strike, which launched to demand their return to their jobs. They were not brought to Thursday's hearing due to "health and security" reasons, court officials said.

They are accused of membership in a left-wing militant group, engaging in terror propaganda and violating laws regulating public demonstrations. The two face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Legislators Mahmut Tanal and Sezgin Tanrikulu from the opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, and Mithat Sancar from the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, or HDP, were among the group protesting. Eleven of the detained protesters were women.

Gulmen and Ozakca are among more than 110,000 civil servants who have been dismissed under the state of emergency the Turkish government declared after last year's failed coup attempt. Critics say the state of emergency is being misused to crack down on government critics.