At least 61 people have been arrested in the Turkish capital after taking part in demonstrations held in support of two teachers arrested as part of the country’s post-coup crackdown.
Turkish police used water cannons and pepper spray to disperse the crowds gathered in Ankara’s Kizilay square on Sunday.
The protest was held in a show of support for Literature professor Nuriye Gulmen, 35, and primary school teacher Semih Ozakca, 28, who were arrested about two months ago for going on hunger strike after being fired as part of Ankara’s public sector purge following a failed military coup.
The two teachers claimed that their hunger strike was aimed at highlighting the predicament of about 150,000 state employees who have been suspended or fired since the failed putsch.
Turkey witnessed a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, when a faction of the Turkish military declared that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge of the country.
Over the course of some two days, however, the coup was suppressed. Almost 250 people were killed and nearly 2,200 others wounded in the abortive coup.
Since then, Ankara has been engaged in suppressing perceived putschists and sympathizers.
Over 40,000 people have been arrested and 120,000 others sacked or suspended from a wide range of professions over alleged links with the coup attempt.
Critics say President Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to eliminate his opponents.