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Trade union arrests in Turkey spark widespread protest
5 July 2012
The global union movement has launched a campaign to free labour activists and leaders who were arrested across 20 cities in Turkey in a concerted anti-union attack; a number still remain in jail.
Turkish police detained 71 trade unionists following a raid of union offices and activists’ homes in the early hours of 25 June claiming they were carrying out an operation against a terrorist organisation. The activists are members of the Confederation of Public Sector Workers’ Unions (KESK), an affiliate of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), as well as of KESK-affiliated labour organisations, including ITF union Birlesik Tasimacilik Çalisanlari Sendikasi (BTS).
Forty-three were released, but 28 are still in detention. BTS’s international secretary Osman Isci and former president Yunus Akil are among those who remain in detention.
The arrests are just the latest in a spate of attacks against trade unions and their members under the rule of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party. In February this year, for example, 15 women leaders and activists of several KESK-affiliated unions were arrested. Any links with real or perceived terrorist organisations have yet to be established.
The ITUC and global union federations have denounced this anti-union harassment; the ITF today sent a letter to Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in which the federation’s general secretary David Cockroft demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all detained trade unionists.
The labour movement is urging unionists likewise to send a message of protest to the prime minister.
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