Over the last few days, Turkish political opponents have been organising "light protests" from their homes to protest the arrest of two teachers who are now imprisoned after being fired from their posts during the post-coup state of emergency. The pair have been subject to police violence during their time in detention.


Every evening at 10pm, political activists repeatedly switch the lights in their homes on and off, like a warning light or a strobe. The aim is to "fire up public opinion", according to one of the activists the France 24 Observers team spoke to.

"Speak out! Turn on the light", writes this Twitter user on July 30 2017.

These light 'distress calls' are filmed and then shared across social media, accompanied by calls for others to resist, along with messages of support for the two teachers, Nuriye Gülme and Semih Özakça.

Gülme is a university literature professor, while Özakça is a primary school teacher. They were fired from their posts after a public order and then arrested in Ankara on October 29, 2016 — part of a chain of events set off by the coup attempt that rocked the country on July 15, 2016. They are demanding their jobs back and have been on hunger strike since March 9, 2017. Both were remanded in custody on May 22, 2017 and sent to prison the following day, where they have been carrying on their hunger strike.

The inner circle of resisters: Nuriye Gülme (far right) et Semih Özakça (in the middle, above others). Photo published on Facebook by a supporter in March 2017.

The teachers are considered by their supporters to be symbols of the fight against autocratic Turkish authorities. Supporters have continued daily demonstrations since their arrest.

The famous journalist Can Dündar publicly supported the movement by publishing this video on his Twitter account on July 30, 2017.

The resistance received public support from the journalist Can Dündar, an icon of the political oppposition movement. He was detained after he revealed that Turkey's intelligence services were illegally sending weapons to Syria. He published a video on Twitter of his "light protest", probably filmed in Germany, where he is in exile.

"They turned on the light for us. We will do it for them. Turn on the light of Nuriye and Semih every evening at 10pm", he wrote.

"Nuriye and Semih are not alone!", wrote one Twitter user on July 30, 2017.

Since the failed coup attempt, more than 8,000 university professors, lecturers and teachers have been fired and more than 120,000 people have been placed in detention, according to the opposition site Turkey Purge.