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Ankara hunger strikers reach 70 days without food

A researcher and an elementary school teacher have quietly been on hunger strike for 70 days now to protest the post-coup purges that led to their dismissals.
Riot police detain a demonstrator during a protest against the dismissal of academics from universities following a post-coup emergency decree, outside the Cebeci campus of Ankara University in Ankara, Turkey, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX30FAC

Nuriye Gulmen, a research assistant at Selcuk University in Konya, was first suspended from duty and then removed from her position during the state of emergency after the attempted coup in July. She started a solo protest to get her job back on Nov. 9 on Ankara’s Yuksel Street and soon was joined by Semih Ozakca, who had been dismissed from his position in an elementary school in Mardin's Mazidagi district, along with his wife.

On March 9, the protest escalated into a hunger strike. Gulmen and Ozakca have been detained many times by the police, but they have carried on. This period, after 60 days of malnutrition, is the most critical stage in most hunger strikes as the protesters are at risk of developing problems like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a combination of neurological disorders caused by thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency.

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