Arbitrary Detentions of Woman Trade Unionist in Turkey
On 13 February 2012 offices of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), Trade Union of Public Employees in Health and Social Services (SES), Municipal Workers’ Union (TÜMBELSEN), Trade Union for Education and Education Staff (Egitim Sen) and the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) were raided by the Turkish police in Ankara, Adana, Batman, Mardin, Van, Erzurum, Hakkari, Muş, Diyarbakır, İstanbul, Mersin, Şırnak, İzmir, Urfa, Antep and Hatay. These raids were carried out in the frame of the so-called “KCK-Operations” according to which mass arrests have taken place in Turkey since 14 April 2009.
Due to these operations over 8,190 Kurdish politicians, human rights and peace activists, trade unionists, activists from women’s and youth movements, have been arrested in the past year and a half. Around 4,000 of them are still in custody. Among them there are 6 Kurdish MPs and 31 current mayors and mayoresses, numerous council and party members of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) as well as women and human rights activists.
During the raids on 13 February 2012 the following 15 female trade union members were taken into custody:
• Canan Çalağan, Women’s branch secretary of KESK
• Güler Elveren, Women’s branch secretary of Tüm Bel Sen
• Songul Morsumbul, Women’s branch secretary of KESK Former Frauensekretärin
• Bedriye Yorgun, Women’s branch secretary and former chairperson of SES
• Leman Kiraz, Former board member of BES
• Güldane Dogan, Women’s branch secretary Egitim Sen, Ankara
• Hatice Beydilli, Member of Egitim Sen, Ankara
• Evrim Özdemir Oğraş, Member of Egitim Sen, Ankara
• Şefika Şimşek, Member of Egitim Sen, Ankara
• Nezahat Asrav, Member of Egitim Sen, Ankara
• Meral Hız Egitim, Member of Sen, Ankara
• Belkıs Yurtseven, Member of SES, Ankara
• Hülya Mendillioğlu, Member of SES, Ankara
• Nurşat Yeşil, Member of SES, Ankara
• Özden Özmen Gök, Member of SES, Ankara
After four days of interrogation six of women trade unionists were released, while nine of them were detained. The court proceedings and prosecutions against all of them are continuing.
It has been reported that the prosecutor asked the women questions about legal union activities.
“Why did you organize an action on March 8 [International Women’s Day]?” apparently asked the prosecutor who also wanted to know why the unions organize a demonstration on November 28, the International Day for the elimination of violence against women?
In written statements different Trade Unions, international Trade Union Confederations and human rights organisations demanded the immediate release of all who have been taken into custody and were arrested.
KESK noted in their statement that; “The detention of mainly woman members of KESK and unions affiliated to it point out to a purpose that intends to interrupt 8 March 2012 activities as we face police searches and raids every time we organize an affective act.”
KESK underlined that the AKP’s attitude which tramples on law and justice and arbitrarily violates most basic rights points out to the authoritarian regime it longs for. Further they remarked; “These operations point out to the increase in AKP government’s attacks against the powers of labour and democracy that continue their struggle without bowing to the government’s labour enemy policies.
Those who think that these arbitrary detentions will manage to suppress our honourable struggle are in a great delusion. It should be known that we will never give up raising the voice of peace against violence, protecting the rights of workers and voicing the demand for an equal, free and democratic Turkey.”
Cenî – Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace also condemns strongly the anti-democratic attitudes of the Turkish government. We demand an immediate end of all arbitrary detentions and the release of all arrested trade unionists and women’s rights activists.
Cenî – Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace
Düsseldorf, 17 February 2012