The leaders of the Council of Global Unions – which brings together 11 global union federations, including the ITF, and represents hundreds of millions of workers worldwide – have today written to the Turkish prime minister to demand that he acts to calm the current violence against protestors by “entering into a real dialogue with your citizens and their representatives”.
The letter to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemns the brutality used by the Turkish security forces and asserts that “democracy is not just about the ballot box. The right to have peaceful demonstration is one of the basics of genuine democracy”.
Citing both the current violence and the bloodshed of this year’s May Day celebrations in Istanbul, the letter declares, “The global union movement is concerned that your Government has turned violent repression into a regular practice… Such brutality is unacceptable”.
It continues, “Your Government calls itself a champion of democracy and human rights, but for such simple issues as Gezi Park in Istanbul, you consistently refuse dialogue. Intransigent behavior has led to expansion and continuation of the protests. In addition, your insults of your own citizens are provocative and dangerous.
“Rather than continuing repression and anti-democratic measures, the underlying causes of the demonstrations should be recognized. Particularly since the 2011 elections, authoritarian actions have increased. This includes legal and illegal union busting, adoption of laws that discourage rather than encourage the exercise of trade union rights, inaction, at best, against employers refusing to respect workers’ rights, abuses in the judiciary system, and violence against trade unionists. Coupled with the limits on freedom of assembly and expression, these constitute attacks on fundamental human rights and democracy.”
The letter concludes, “The global union movement urges your Government to take action against those in positions of authority who are responsible for such massive unrest in society and for the violence. We also call on you to ensure that those detained for participating in peaceful demonstrations be immediately released.
“Turkey and its people … deserve democracy and protection of all human rights, including trade union rights. We encourage your Government to move in that direction in the crucial days and weeks ahead.”
Meanwhile, the KESK and DISK confederations in Turkey were both on strike on 4 and 5 June in protest at the violence against demonstrators. The ITF affiliated BTS union, a KESK member, sent the following eyewitness account from Istanbul:
“Hundreds of civilians were injured, and many of them are seriously wounded, as a result of the police attacks on people who have been pointed as targets. Thousands of people were taken under police custody. All the main areas within the cities have been under police siege, and hunt-like raids carried out at night have been started. The target of these raids is all opponents to the government.”
It added: “During our strike for ‘Decent life, secure employment and future security, democratic Turkey’, union members wore black ribbons and clothes at workplaces and we held press conferences in front of workplaces to condemn the ignoring of the right to life, freedom of expression and right to protest.”
To support the LabourStart campaign against the violence in Turkey, visit the site of ITF http://www.itfglobal.org/news-online/index.cfm/newsdetail/9088 and click he respective point to fill the form of support.