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ITUC: 71 Trade UNIONist Arrested in Turkey

26 June 2012: The ITUC has strongly condemned the full-scale attacks against Turkey’s trade UNIONs carried out by the authorities yesterday. In the early hours of Monday 25 June, UNION offices as well as houses of trade UNION leaders in around 20 cities all over the country were raided and searched, and 71 trade UNION members and leaders were detained.

As has happened on numerous occasions during the years under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the pretext of the attacks was an operation against an illegal terrorist organisation. While the first link between Turkey’s trade UNIONs and any real or perceived terrorist organisation has yet to be found, the authorities leave no opportunity untapped to refer to such an alleged link as an excuse for harsh and arbitrary repression.

Last year, the ITUC already strongly protested against the misuse of Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws, when 25 members of teachers’ UNION Egitim Sen were sentenced to six years’ and five months’ imprisonment by the Izmir Criminal Court. The “evidence” against them included possession of books that can be found in any bookstore in Turkey, and the holding of UNION meetings.

“We cannot accept that trade UNIONists are detained, jailed and, most of all, baselessly accused. The Turkish government must immediately stop labeling trade UNIONs as terrorist organisations. Trade UNIONists should have the right to play their legitimate role without fear of being arrested,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

In a letter sent to the Turkish authorities, the ITUC is urging Prime Minister Erdogan to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all 71 detained trade UNIONists.