Tuesday, 26 February 2013

ACT NOW! Arrested Turkish Trade Unionists need our help!

As regular readers will be aware there have been a large number of arrests of trade unionists in Turkey. On Thursday 20th February I published the statement by the International Trade Union Confederation  (ITUC) outlining what had happened and calling for solidarity.

Labourstart has now launched a campaign to call on the Turkish Government to release our fellow trade unionists. I have urgently issued their appeal on my PCS e-mail lists.

Please send a message of protest to the Turkish Prime Minister now!

Go to: http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1742

The European Federation of Public Services Unions have issued the following statement:

Turkish police go after trade unionists of KESK –again. Stop harassing the unions.

(19 February 2013) EPSU has been informed that almost 100 people have been arrested in raids including on trade union offices in Turkey. Trade unionists have been detained. The arrests are made in an attempt to find people linked to the suicide bomber that killed a security guard at the US embassy and which has been linked by the police to the organisation DHKP-C. EPSU rejects such acts of violence.
We condemn the massive attack by the Turkish state ruled by the AKP on trade unionists of the public service confederation of KESK and its affiliates. It is not the first time and many of our colleagues are in jail on trumped up charges without substantial evidence. Our colleagues are detained for months while waiting their trial. The European Commission and international human rights organisations have pointed out on several occasions that the laws relating to terrorist activity the Turkish government is using are flawed and are abused. The Turkish government is trying to break the trade union to silence outspoken critics.
EPSU will be in contact with the European Commission. 

Education International also comments here: http://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/news_details/2467

I also call on my own union the British civil service union, the PCS to issue a statement in support of our imprisoned colleagues.

Morocco imprisons Trade Union Leaders:

From the International Transport Workers Federation: http://www.itfglobal.org/

ITF condemns Moroccan court decision

21 February 2013
The ITF has condemned as ‘utterly unbelievable’ a totally unexpected decision by a Moroccan court to jail trade union leaders Said Elhairech and Mohamed Chamchati.
The criminal Court of First Instance in Rabat yesterday sentenced to one year in jail Elhairech, the general secretary of the Moroccan Ports Union, part of the ITF-affiliated UMT, and chair of the ITF Arab World regional committee. He will appeal against the charges of participating in obstructing freedom of action according to article 288 of the Moroccan Criminal Code (criminalisation of trade union action).

The same court has reportedly also sentenced Mohamed Chamchati, general secretary of the Moroccan merchant seafarers’ union, to two and a half years’ imprisonment. More details of the charges are expected soon.

Elhairech was released in October 2012 with his innocence proven and all charges dropped, except one minor one, following his arrest for ‘sabotage and endangering national security’ in June that year. He had utterly rejected the charges and the ITF was unequivocal in its stance that he had been wrongly targeted following his very effective work on behalf of crews stranded by the cessation of operations of the Comarit-Comanav ferry company, work he undertook at the ITF’s request.

Mohamed Chamchati was also unjustly arrested in June 2012 on clearly mistaken charges. In November he and other union officials were released without charge.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin stated: “These sentences defy belief. Last year Said and Mohamed faced serious, cooked-up charges of sabotage and endangering national security. Following worldwide protests led by the ITF those ridiculous charges were rightly dropped. Now, in a shocking breach of trust and logic they have once again come under legal attack for their legitimate trade union work in defence of workers rights.”

He continued: “These men are guilty of nothing more than being effective trade unionists. We will fight these unjust and idiotic decisions all the way.”

For related ITF press and news online stories see here. For other news and videos, visit the ITF’s Free Said campaign page here.

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