EFJ fears that fight against free unions in Turkey is growing issue after raids of Workers Union

On 19

February Turkish police arrested 167 people in relation with the 1 February

suicide bomb detonation outside the US embassy in Ankara.  All across Turkey, members of DHKP/C, the Revolutionary

People’s Liberation Party/Front, a militant leftist group which is listed as

terrorist organisation by both Turkey and the United States and had claimed

responsibility for the attack, were targeted. As part of these raids, the Confederation

of Public Workers’ Unions (KESK), affiliate of the International as well as the

European Trade Union Confederation, was searched under the justification of

being a DHKP/C member. Several union officials were arrested, among them senior

leader and ITUC Steering Committee member Akman Simsek, as well as doctors and



Anglophone news site Bianet also reports that Engin Göko?lu, a human rights lawyer, said detainees visiting

rights were restricted in the first 24 hours of their detention.


In reaction

to the events, the website Today’s Zaman reports that the Deputy Chairman of the Republican People's Party

(CHP), Sezgin Tanr?kulu, complained that the involvement of KESK in these raids

“is a part of a systematic plan to ruin the reputation of KESK in the eyes of

the public”. KESK chairperson Lami Özgen said in a statement that over the past

year already 59 of its leaders have been detained for their union activities. The European Federation of Public Service Unions rejects the violence of the suicide bombing

but condemned “the massive attack by the Turkish state ruled by the AKP on

trade unionists of the public service confederation of KESK and its

affiliates”. ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow

adds that “Turkish

authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all arrested trade

union members and stop labeling them as terrorists. In a true democracy, trade

unionists have the right to play their legitimate role without having to fear

being arrested”. Upon hearing the news, EFJ President Arne König expressed his fears

that “the fight against the free unions is a growing issue”.


EPSU and ITUC and others have set up an online campaign calling on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop harassing trade unionists and labelling them as terrorists. You can sign their call here.