Monday, 17 June 2013

Unions join the fray in Turkey as Erdogan threatens military intervention

LabourStart photo of the day.

The fight for defending democracy took a sinister turn yesterday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the demonstrators of being "terrorists" and continued to make vague inferences about unnamed "international forces" influencing the protests for their "own motives", though failed to specify who they were.

The BBC reports another disturbing development:

The Turkish government has said it could use the army to end nearly three weeks of unrest by protesters in Istanbul and other cities.
The government would use "all its powers" and the armed forces if necessary, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on state-run television.
It is the first time the Islamist-rooted ruling party has raised the prospect of deploying the armed forces.
The issue is sensitive as the army is seen as a bastion of secularism.
This comes at a time that the main two unions call strikes in support of the protesters. The Turkish paper Hurriyet reports:

The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Turkish Doctors' Union (TTB), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) and the Turkish Dentists Union (TDHB) have called on workers to take to the streets in a joint decision.

"The ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] government has launched an offensive against the nation, who refuse to give up their rights and freedoms by staging an insistent resistance," the group said in a statement.

The members of the unions will stop working on June 17 except for emergency cases and will march to their cities' centers.

The group has also asked for tolerance because of the disruption and also demanded the support of the people in the squares for a more "egalitarian, free and democratic Turkey."

Meanwhile Eric Lee of Labourstart continues to call for solidarity and has issued the following message:

Gokhan Bicici, arrested last night in Istanbul.

Gokhan Bicici is a friend of mine. 

In 2011, he invited LabourStart to hold its annual Global Solidarity Conference in Istanbul. 

I remember the conversation well -- we had it in a cafe next to Gezi Park, just off Taksim Square.

Last night, Gokhan was filming the demonstrations. 

He was brutally attacked by police and dragged off.

Incredibly, the attack was filmed and you can watch the entire minute-long video here:

If you use Facebook, please share that video widely. 

As I write these words, over 11,200 people have already done exactly that.

But over 60,000 of you who are receiving this message have not yet signed up to the current LabourStart campaign demanding an end to police violence in Turkey. 

Please do not delay a moment longer -- sign up now:

If you have already signed up, please encourage your union to spread the news by email to as many members as possible

Your union has thousands of members who would support this campaign if they knew about it.

This is the largest online campaign LabourStart has ever done with over 18,300 messages sent to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.  

I think it can be even larger.

As for Gokhan, here is what the Independent Media Center have to say:

"He suffered an eyebrow cut, his gas mask was broken, his iPad was confiscated and he was kept waiting, injured and handcuffed, for four hours by police who told him he had been detained but refused to tell him where he would be taken, and failed to carry out any official procedure. As of 23:30, our friend is being held inside a police vehicle in front of the Taksim Atatürk Cultural Centre, and has been told he will be taken to the Istanbul Police Directorate. We strictly condemn the abusive treatment of Gökhan Biçici, and demand that he is immediately released, that those who are responsible, who are clearly documented in various photographic and video recordings on social media, are immediately revealed and brought to trial."

He is still being held by the police now, hours later.

Spread the word.  Build the campaign.

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