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Police Violence, Turkish Trade UNIONs Protesting IMF, World Bank Policies


Responding to the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Istanbul on 6-7 October, Turkish trade UNIONs organized a manifestation in Taksim Square, in the centre of the city. The protest against the IMF and World Bank was organized by the Confederation of Progressive Trade UNIONs (DİSK), the Confederation of Trade UNIONs of Public Employees (KESK), the Turkey UNION of Chambers of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) and the Turkish Doctors Association (TTB). Organisers of the event instructed those taking part to carry out a peaceful protest. Other groups who planned a non-peaceful protest were told to wait until after the trade UNION event in Taksim Square had finished, before they took their protest to the IMF meeting, in the district of Harbiye.

The General Secretary of DISK, Tayfun Görgün, also Vice-President of ICEM affiliate mineworkers Dev Maden-Sen, spoke first to the crowd of 5,000. However, before speeches could continue, police attacked first with tear gas and afterwards with firearms and water cannons, using tinted water so that protesters would be easily identified later.

Not only protesters but also journalists and passers-by were affected by the heavy tear gas, as police did not use the gas to disperse the crowd, instead surrounding the crowd, causing confusion. ICEM affiliates reported extremely heavy-handed behaviour from police, “There was more police violence and more tear gas than at the last three May Days,” stated Kivanç Eli Açik, Director of International Relations at DISK.

Around 100 arrests were made for peoples’ role in the protest. One man died of a heart attack in the violence, after it was very difficult to get him to the hospital, through police lines.

In other news in Turkey, Turkish trade UNIONist, Murad Akincilar, from ICEM Swiss affiliate UNIA, has been arrested in Turkey with no motive for the arrest communicated with his family. The ICEM is working with its Turkish affiliates to communicate with the country’s authorities and demand a swift release or fair trial.

Murad Akincilar

International solidarity for the struggle of Turkey’s trade UNIONs was illustrated through a successful seminar in the city of Izmit, 8-9 October. Part of the ICEM R16;Project of Capacity Building for Social Dialogue and Organising in Turkey’ funded by FNV Bondgenoten of the Netherlands, the seminar was supported by UNIONs from France, Holland, Spain, and Brazil, exchanging trade UNION success stories from around the world.

Presentations included the R16;Global Perspective’ by ICEM’ Kemal Ozkan, the R16;European Perspective’ by FCE-CFDT’s Sylvain Lefebvre, the R16;Holland: National Example’ by FNV Bondgenoten’s Mail Űrker and Patrick Van Klink, the R16;Spain: National Example’ by Isidor Boix of FITEQA-CC.OO, R16;Brazil: National Example’ by Nilton Freitas of Quimicos ABC-CUT, R16;France: National Example’ by FCE-CFDT’s Marc Blanc, and the R16;Turkey: National Example’ by Uzeyir Ataman of Lastik-İş.

The project aims to contribute to the ability of ICEM’s Turkish affiliates to recruit new members, as well as to organize discussions on establishing a base to create a functioning industrial relations system, prioritizing fundamental human and trade UNION rights, together with good social dialogue.