Turkey: More than 100 public sector unionists arrested
UPDATE: On Wednesday 10 April 2013, Ankara's 13th Heavy Criminal Court ruled that the 22 KESK members who had been arrested on 25 June 2012, and together with 50 other KESK members charged on the basis of Turkey's indefinite anti-terrorism legislation, were to be released after nearly ten months of pre-trial detention. The charges have however not been dropped, and all 72 defendants have to appear in court again on Monday 8 July. Meanwhile, another 15 KESK members, all of them women, have to appear in court on Thursday 18 April 2013, after nine of them spent eight months in pre-trial detention, and three of them ten months. These cases illustrate the worsening abuse of the Turkish legal system by the authorities to muzzle the opposition in general and trade unions in particular. We therefore renew our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all the arrested union members.
Police raids have targeted members and leaders of public sector union KESK in the early morning of Tuesday 19 February. This new attack against the Turkish trade union movement, carried out by the authorities in 28 cities across the country, resulted in the arrest of at least 100 unionists, including many members of teachers' union Egitim Sen. In total, 167 arrest warrants had been issued for alleged links with terrorist organisations. In the meantime, 58 of the arrested unionists have been detained, while the rest of them have been released. This is not the first time that the Turkish authorities have used anti-terrorism laws to crack down on trade unionists. On 10 April, the Ankara 13th Heavy Criminal Court will start the trial against 72 other KESK members and leaders who were arrested on 25 June 2012. In 2012, the European Commission expressed concerns as regards the Turkish criminal justice system, and in particular regarding the limited access to the prosecution file, the failure to give detailed grounds for arrest and detention decisions, and the length of pretrial detention. The Commission deplored the "wide application of the legal framework on terrorism and organised crime, which leads to recurring infringements (of fundamental rights)". We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all the arrested union members; and urge the authorities to stop harassing and labeling trade unionists as terrorists. Turkish unionists need your support!