In response to formal requests from affiliates in Turkey, supported by other ITF unions, the ITF is calling on all its members to support the ongoing protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and throughout Turkey. The following is a letter to the Turkish Prime Minister from ITF President Paddy Crumlin:
21 June 2013
Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey
Via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Direngezi, Stop State Violence, Respect Peoples’ Rights
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Maritime Union of Australia and International Transport Workers’ Federation representing over four million transport workers worldwide, including in Turkey.
The global union movement is concerned at the use of brutal and excessive violence by government security forces against people peacefully exercising their rights of freedom of assembly, an essential part of freedom of expression. Turkish police actions have turned Istanbul, Ankara and other cities where demonstrations take place into battlegrounds and according to reports received, four people have died, many have been seriously injured and thousands are in custody.
We believe that the right to peaceful demonstration is a basic element of genuine democracy. We are also concerned that since the 2011 elections, the legal and illegal denial of fundamental trade union rights has increased. This has included the adoption of laws that discourage rather than encourage the exercise of those rights, inaction, at best, against employers who deny workers' fundamental rights, abuses in the judiciary system, prevention of de facto application of legal strikes, and violence against trade unionists coupled with limits on freedom of assembly and expression. These constitute attacks on fundamental human rights and democracy.
We urgently call on you to take the following actions to calm the current situation:
- The Government in Ankara should put an end to state violence against peaceful demonstrators and ensure that the right of freedom of expression and assembly is guaranteed in all public areas of Turkey.
- Those responsible for the thousands of injured people and the deaths of Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, Abdullah Cömert, Ethem Sarısülük and Mustafa Sarı should be held accountable, dismissed from their posts and prosecuted before the law.
- Detained citizens who attended the protests across the country should be immediately released with an official statement declaring that there will not be any investigations pursued into them.
- All the legal and practical barriers against the exercise of trade union rights are removed and the right to strike is respected.
- KESK trade unionists, detained journalists and all others unjustly held for legitimate acts of protests and opposition should be released immediately.
- Turkey and its people deserve much better. They deserve democracy and the protection of all their human rights, including trade union rights. We encourage your Government to move in that direction in the crucial days and weeks ahead.
I would be grateful for your comments on this matter.
MUA National Secretary | ITF President