Istanbul, 14 lawyers arrested: They defended two imprisoned professors on hunger strike

Lawyers belong to the People's Rights Department (HHB) and have been charged with terrorism. They would be linked to the Revolutionary Front of Popular Liberation (Dhkp-C), an outlawed Marxist group. The arrest took place on the eve of the trial of the two professors,  "suspicious" timing.


Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Turkish court has ordered the arrest of  14 lawyers  on charges of terrorism.  The 14 represent the defense team of two professors on a hunger strike for six months in protest against imprisonment. Both professors were detained in the context of the repression campaign launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following the failed coup of July 14 and 15, 2016.

The case of Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca has become well known. Citizens and activists critical of Erdogan's purges have held several protests against their detention. Added to this is the suspension or dismissal of more than 140 thousand officials and public sector employees in the context of the post-coup state of emergency.

The two teachers started the hunger strike in March, in protest against their arrest; in May they were indicted for crimes related to terrorism. Their trial began on September 14, but the defendants could not attend the hearing for health reasons.

Two days before the trial began, Turkish police with a "suspect timing" detained 16 lawyers from the Department of Human Rights (HHB), who were part of the defense team. After a lengthy interrogation, the magistrate has ordered the detention of 14 for "belonging to an armed terrorist group".

The other two standing lawyers were released without formal charges.

The arrested are accused of "ties" with the Revolutionary Front of Popular Liberation (Dhkp-C), a marginalized Marxist group in Turkey, which in the past has launched sporadic attacks against institutional and governmental targets. Hbb lawyers are accused of belonging to the Marxist movement, and its members would be identified with the "sports" code name within the group.

Gulmen and Ozakca are accused of links with the Dhkp-C, which both reject strongly. "We have only one answer -  write HBB chiefs in a twitter message - to organize even better and to strengthen our battle for justice." The next hearing for the two teachers, who will only take salty or sugary water, herbal tea and vitamin B1, is set for September 28th.

Journalists, intellectuals, professors, military, public officials or judges; physicians, sportsmen, entrepreneurs, and ordinary citizens: The governmental repression in the aftermath of the coup has not spared anyone in Turkey. Among the allegations, often fabricated, that led to arrests or opening of an investigation is  affiliation with Kurdish "terrorist" groups or the membership of the movement leading to Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, exiled in Pennsylvania (United States).

According to Erdogan, he is the mastermind of the coup in Turkey, where 270 people died and thousands were injured. The Islamic leader, a former ally of the president, has always strongly denied any responsibility and has invoked an international inquiry to shed light on the coup and the forces that inspired it. Meanwhile, in recent months, the Turkish leader - who called the coup d'état "a gift from God" - promoted (and won by a margin amid accusations of fraud) a referendum on expanded presidentialism. Now, he is in fact the father of the nation. (DS)

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