TUC letter to Turkish Ambassador to the UK on the detention of women trade unionists and activists in Turkey

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HE Mr Ünal Çeviköz
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
43 Belgrave Square

Dear Ambassador,

Arrest of members of KESK, SES Tüm Bel, BES and Egitim Sen

On behalf of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the British national trade union centre, the 6.2 millions of our affiliated unions and British workers, I am writing to you to protest in the strongest terms against the detention of 15 women trade union leaders and activists and the harassment and intimidation of our sister unions by the Turkish government.

The TUC has learnt that on 13th February 2012, 15 women trade union leaders and activists, members of PSI, EPSU, EI, ETUCE, ITUC and ETUC affiliates, were arrested and dragged from their homes in early morning raids. Furthermore, the offices of municipal workers union, Tüm Bel Sen, and health and social service workers union, SES, (both affiliated to PSI/EPSU) as well as the offices of the Confederation of Civil Servants Trade Unions, KESK, (affiliated to ITUC) were invaded and searched.

According to our information, those detained are:

Canan Çalağan, KESK Women’s Secretary
Songul Morsumbul, KESK Former Women’s Secretary
Bedriye Yorgun, SES Women’s Secretary and SES Former President
Belkıs Yurtseven, SES Ankara Branch Member
Hülya Mendillioğlu, SES Ankara Branch Member
Nurşat Yeşil, SES Ankara Branch Member
Özden Özmen Gök, SES Ankara Branch Member
Güler Elveren, Tüm Bel Sen Women’s Secretary
Leman Yurtsever, BES Former Executive Board Member
Güldane Dogan, Egitim Sen Ankara Branch (no.2) Women’s Secretary
Hatice Beydilli, Egitim Sen Ankara Branch (no.1) Member
Evrim Özdemir Oğraş, Egitim Sen Ankara Branch (no.1) member
Şefika Şimşek, Egitim Sen Ankara Branch Member
Nezahat Asrav, Egitim Sen Ankara Branch Member
Meral Hız, Egitim Sen Ankara Branch Member

After 4 days in custody, on the 16 of February, they were charged with being member of an organisation considered illegal, KCK. Pending trial, nine out of the 15 women were retained in detention and the other 6 released.  A total of 27 KESK members, including Executive Committee members, are currently in prison because of their “political ideas”.

The TUC sees this continued use of state apparatus to harass and intimidate trade union leaders and activists as constituting nothing other than anti-union harassment, which is a serious violation of European and international legislations and treaties which Turkey is a signatory - the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Right to Organise, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The TUC will continue to extend its support to Turkish trade unionists against police and state intimidation, and in their struggle for democracy, human rights and trade union freedoms. We will call on the ILO and members in the European Parliament to denounce such practices.

I would be grateful if you could convey our views to your Government and would be interested in your response.

Yours sincerely,


General Secretary

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