Issue date
14 Sep 2016

E7 Turkey and solidarity with the Kurdish population

Congress notes with the utmost concern the state of emergency decree imposed on 1 September 2016 which, together with other actions in the weeks following the failed attempted coup on 15 July, deliberately targets Turkey’s trade unionists and public officials, including teachers and academics. Congress further notes the mass suspension of over 11,285 Kurdish teachers on 8 September 2016: yet another move in the intimidation and repression of the Kurdish population.

Since his unsuccessful attempt to secure an absolute majority in the election of June 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has embarked on a programme of wholesale repression of all progressive forces that has included the closing down of opposition newspapers, intimidation of parliamentary opponents, imprisonment and harassment of trade unionists, and the detention and imprisonment of human rights activists and all those engaged in trying to build a stable and democratic civil society. 

Congress deplores the so-called ‘precautionary’ dismissals and suspensions of tens of thousands of public officials, which is inciting widespread public anxiety and fear, and the escalating assault in Turkey on human rights, freedom of association and freedom of speech. Congress deplores the fact that even those who actively opposed the attempted coup have been subject to the same arbitrary repression and intimidation.

Such behaviour is utterly unacceptable in a country with aspirations to EU membership. Despite ratification of international obligations in respect of democracy and human and trade union rights, recent actions by the Turkish authorities are in breach of those obligations.

Congress expresses its solidarity with our Turkish trade union sisters and brothers. Congress welcomes the actions of global unions and TUC affiliates in supporting the work of trade unions in Turkey.

Noting the alarming and dangerous situation that is developing, Congress resolves to:

i     call for the immediate reinstatement of all public officials who have been suspended in the wake of the failed coup, urging the Turkish government to adhere fully to ILO fundamental rights, especially regarding the protection of trade unions rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of the press

ii     step up solidarity activities with all progressive forces in Turkey and in particular with the opposition trade union movement and Kurdish population providing practical or financial assistance to support the trade union movement in Turkey

iii    write to the UK and Turkish governments expressing the concerns of Congress and demanding that attacks on unions, civil society and the Kurdish population be ended, pressing the UK government to insist that Turkey respects its international obligations and the cessation of unlawful actions against public officials in Turkey

iv    encourage European and international union federations as well as other international institutions to put pressure on the Turkish authorities for a change of course

v    call for the restart of the peace process that was unilaterally terminated by the Turkish government in June 2015, and for the release of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan as an essential element for such a process to be successful.

Mover: Unite

Seconder: NASUWT

Supporters: GMB; National Union of Teachers