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.



Photo of Boris with his hand on his head

The crisis of Conservatism

The Conservative Party is in a process of ideological decline or even disintegration, argue James Butler and Richard Seymour.

photo of people marching with placards

Patients’ rights have no borders

As a US-friendly no-deal Brexit inches closer, Bonnie Castillo of National Nurses United explains why US nurses have joined the fight against NHS privatisation. Recommended reading ahead of The World Transformed health sessions

A still from the film Bait

Film review: Bait and switch

Alex McDonald reviews new British film Bait, a socially engaged drama that uses lyricism to devastating effect.


Photo of the the Houses of Parliament over the river

It’s time the UK had real democracy

Under the UK’s constitutional monarchy, we are subjects not citizens. Rewriting the constitution should be an urgent priority for a Labour government, argues Hilary Wainwright

protestors march with red banner saying stop tory brexit

No shock doctrine for Britain: Stop Boris Johnson

Director of Global Justice Now, Nick Dearden, calls for swift action to stop Boris Johnson shutting down Parliament

The Harland and Wolff workers want to make renewable energy. A Labour government would help them

In the 1970s, Lucas Aerospace workers had a plan to make socially useful products and went to minister for industry Tony Benn for help. Do the workers occupying their shipyard in Belfast have a similar ally in John McDonnell? By Hilary Wainwright