Wave of repression hits Turkish trade unionists

Tim Baster and Isabelle Merminod report on the third police operation in 12 months against trade unionists in Turkey

February 26, 2013 · 2 min read

Supporters for the 3 KESK women outside the Ankara court, Turkey 13.12.2012A solidarity demonstration outside the court in Ankara. Photo: Isabelle Merminod.

At five in the morning on 19 February, police raided homes across Turkey arresting 169 trade unionists, all members of KESK, the independent confederation of public service unions in Turkey.

The police said this operation was related to DHKP, a banned left wing party which claimed responsibility for the bombing of the American Embassy on 1 February. But Lami Özgen, president of KESK, pointed out that those arrested were members or officials, of unions affiliated to KESK. He stated that this is: ‘…a new operation to blockade and defeat KESK.’

This is the third operation against KESK trade unionists in 12 months. Police took 73 members in two previous operations in February and June 2012. These trade unionists were charged with involvement in the KCK (the Union of Kurdish Communities) alleged to be an urban wing of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) the armed Kurdish movement fighting for autonomy.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 people are in prison in Turkey facing terrorism trials. On 22 February, Amnesty International issued a statement calling on the Turkish government to: ‘…amend the vague and overly broad definition of terrorism in Turkish law, to bring it into line with international standards regarding legal clarity and legal certainty.’ Amnesty International reports that terrorism convictions are obtained solely: ‘…on the basis of people’s writings, association with certain recognised political groups or participation in peaceful demonstrations.’

Tim and Isabelle will report in greater depth on the repression the AKP is unleashing on the left and Kurdish groups in the April/May print issue of Red Pepper. Get a trial subscription for just £5.



Workers unite online

They're logging on to combat lagging labour laws, costly court proceedings, and outsourcing management, writes Gaia Caramazza

Review – Finding a Voice: Asian women in Britain

Finding a Voice: Asian women in Britain, by Amrit Wilson, reviewed by Maya Goodfellow

The political whiteness of #MeToo

We need to confront how the movement is shaped by the power of whiteness, write Alison Phipps


Trumpism goes global

Trumpism is capitalism’s Plan B, writes Nick Dearden

Brexit’s drug problem

For all the talk of free-trade, why is ‘Global Britain’ still behind on drug law reform? By Kojo Koram

What happens if a university fails?

David Ridley reflects on the Augar Review