Open letter from women trade unionists

To: Trade Unions in the United Kingdom

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In Turkey, the lives of women no longer seem to matter. As each day produces more reports of women being murdered, of women being raped by security personnel and of men being released from detention after committing serious crimes against women, the Turkish government plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention which commits governments to tackle violence against women and provide resources for victims of domestic abuse.

Over 250 women have been murdered in Turkey this year, and the figure rises almost every day. These include murders by partners, fathers, brothers and members of police and army.

These deaths are not the only story. Violence towards women has been rising in all areas with the authorities often ignoring this or excusing it. Women have been advised to keep themselves safe and not to provoke their partner.

The abuse of women by security personnel is particularly a feature against Kurdish women and women active in the women’s movement, trade unions and opposition political parties.

The recent case of Kurdish teenager Ipek Er is particularly outrageous and encapsulates the situation. Ms Er was kidnapped by a Turkish soldier and held captive and repeatedly raped over a period of 20 days. The authorities failed to take action against him, and Ms Er took her own life some days later. It was only after protests and demonstrations by women demanding action that he handed himself in. However, he was later released with his lawyer threatening anyone who slandered Turkish soldiers with court action.

A Government spokesperson has said that the protests are simply to cover up the actions of the Kurdish-led opposition party the HDP and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party.

Women who have protested his release have been arrested and, in some cases, beaten by police.

We express our outrage at this situation and solidarity with the victims of violence, those women protesting against Femicide and violence against women and to all women in Turkey.

We call on our trade unions to

  1. write to the UK government to raise concerns with the Turkish government
  2. send solidarity messages to our sister unions in Turkey
  3. seek an urgent meeting with the Turkish Ambassador to call on the Turkish government to maintain the country’s support for the Istanbul Convention and to take action to end Femicide and violence against women.


Yours in solidarity

Phinah Adanne, UNISON NCNTW Health Women’s Officer; Brenda Aitchison UNISON Renfrewshire; Maria Alberts, UNISON Gateshead Health Women’s Officer; Averill Anthony, Craigavon Area Hospital UNISON; Angela Armstrong, Orchard UNISON; Clare Baker, International Officer UNITE;  Luisete Batista , UNISON NEC; Nicole Berrisford, UNISON Derby City; Baroness Christine Blower of Starch Green, NUT former General Secretary; Cat Boyd, PCS Acting National Officer for Scotland; Andrea Bradley, EIS; Kim Bradley, UNISON SEPA, Women’s Officer; Deborah Brennan, Co-chair Northern Ireland UNISON Women’s Committee; Linda Brown, Unite Scotland, Chair BAEM Committee; Louise Cameron, UNISON Newcastle LG; Katherine Cardowine, UNISON Gateshead LG Women’s officer; Brenda Carson, GMB;  Gabrielle Carton Regional Convenor Northern Ireland UNISON; Caroline Mullen Cassidy Branch Education Officer Northern Ireland UNISON; Haz Ruru Chif, UNISON NCNTW Health; Rugare Chify, UNISON Durham LG; Allison Chisell, UNISON EDF Energy; Denise Christie, Scottish Regional Secretary FBU; Irene Clark, Unite Scotland SEC; Caroline Collinson, UNISON Newcastle LG Women’s Officer; Nuala Conlon, Women’s Committee Northern Ireland UNISON; Helen Cook, UNISON Durham LG; Maggie Cook, UNISON NEC; Helen Crickard, Community and Voluntary Sector Northern Ireland UNISON; Mary Crozier, Branch Women’s Officer UNISON; Emma Jane Cullen, Health and Safety Officer UNISON; Laura Lee Daly, Unite and chair of Durham Women’s Banner Group; Prof Mary Davis, UCU, TUC Women’s Gold Badge winner; Lesley Discombe, UNISON Torbay; Jane Donague, UNISON NCNTW Health; Jenny Douglas, Unite Scotland SEC and EC; Dolores Doyle, Orchard UNISON; Elaine Duffy, UNISON Scotland Treasurer; Joy Dunn, PCS Scotland Political Officer; Dawn Emerson, Craigavon Area Hospital UNISON; Prof. Umut Erel, UCU; Gillian Ewart, Women’s Committee Craigavon Area Hospital UNISON; Angela Feeney, UNISON Lanarkshire Health; Maria Feeney, Unite and STUC Women’s Committee; Julie Ferguson,  Educational Institute of Scotland and Chair STUC Disabled Workers’ Committee; Helen Firman, UNISON NEC; Roz Foyer, General Secretary STUC; Margaret Gallacher, UNISON South Lanarkshire; Natasha Gerson, Equity; Jean Getty, Women’s Committee Northern Ireland UNISON; Lynn Gibson, Unite; Heather Gilfillan, Unite Scotland SEC; Barbara Gorgoni, UCU University of Aberdeen; Irene Graham, Northern Ireland UNISON Women’s Committee; Janet Green, UNISON South Tyneside LG women’s officer; Elsie Greenwood, GMB Scotland; Rahila Gupta, NUJ; Kim Hall, Branch Secretary Northern Ireland UNISON; Jackie Handysides, UNISON NCNTW Health; Lynn Henderson, PCS Acting Senior National Officer; Pat Heron, UNISON NEC, Chair TUC Northern Region Women’s Committee; Karolin Hijazi, UCU Aberdeen; Layla-Roxanne Hill, NUJ; Anna Hindle, UNITE; Morgan Horn, Unite the Union; Sonya Howard, UNISON Kensington & Chelsea; Nicola Humpfrey, UNISON EDF Energy; Daphne Hutchinson Branch Secretary Northern Ireland UNISON; Lisa Jenkins, UNISON NCNTW Health; Brenda Johnson, Newry and Mourne UNISON; Fiona Kelly, Women’s Committee Northern Ireland UNISON; Rachel Killen, Women’s Committee Northern Ireland UNISON; Morag Lawrence, UNISON Aberdeenshire; Jane Lee , UNISON Greater Manchester Mental Health; Leanne Littlewood, UNISON Middlesbrough LG Woman’s officer; Karen Van Loggenburg, Northern Ireland UNISON; Lilian Macer, Convenor UNISON Scotland; Roberta Magee, South and East Belfast UNISON; Enas Magzoub, Unite Scotland Youth Committee; Hazel Marshall, Acts in UNITE; Claire Martin, Craigavon Area Hospital UNISON; Eireann McAuley, Equalities Policy Officer STUC; Christina McAnea, Assistant General Secretary, UNISON; Tracey McBurnie, UNISON Lothian Health; Karen McCallum, Women’s Committee Craigavon Area Hospital UNISON; Siobhan McCready, Unite Scotland, Regional Women and Equalities Officer; Petra McCreesh, Southern Trust UNISON; Kaila McCulloch, Shetland UNISON and Chair UNISON Scotland International Committee; Danielle McCusker, Women’s Committee Northern Ireland UNISON; Margaret McKee, Chair International Committee UNISON; Catherine McKenna, Belfast Education UNISON; Pam McKenzie, Women’s Committee Northern Ireland UNISON; Roisin McKinley, Rathgael UNISON; Annemarie McVicker, Convenor for Equality and Human Rights Community and Voluntary Sector Northern Ireland UNISON; Ellen Mellor, UNISON Gateshead Health; Monique Miller, Unite Scotland Youth Committee; Dr Thetta Moran, NUJ & UNITE; Sylvia Morgan, UCU University of Glasgow; Anne Mumford, Unite; Fiona Napier, UNISON SEPA; Sarah Parker, UNITE Community; Maxine Peake, Equity; Tanya Pretswell, UNISON NCNTW Health; Kate Ramsden, UNISON NEC; Davena Rankin UNISON NEC; Karen Reisman, UNISON NEC; Joanne  Rice UNISON North Tyneside LG Women’s Officer; Lorna Robertson, Unite Scotland SEC; Sandie Robinson, UNISON South Tees Health Women’s officer; Sophie Robinson UNISON NCNTW Health; Stella Rooney, Chair Unite Scotland Young Committee; Yvonne Rutherford, UNISON NCNTW Health; Mary Senior, STUC Vice President and UCU; Aisling Slim, Orchard UNISON; Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary; Mary Stratford, NAPO; Yvonne Stewart, National Officer Society of Radiographers; Anne Taggert, Belfast Education UNISON; Shavanah Taj, General Secretary Wales TUC; Viv Thomson, UNISON City of Edinburgh; Agnes Tolmie, Chair of Unite Scotland Women’s Committee; Samantha Townsend, Unite; Kath Unsworth, UNITE; Dr Rashmi Varma, UCU; Dawn Wainwright, UNISON EDF Energy Women’s officer; Tracey Wainwright UNISON NEC; Julie Ward, UNITE; Jill Weir, Omagh and Fermanagh Health UNISON; Dr Georgie Wemyss, UCU; Rebecca Wilczek, UNISON Northern Holding; Sonia Wilkins, UNISON Solihull Mental Health; Rena Wood, UNISON Manchester LG; Lyn Wormald, UNISON Highland Healthcare;

For more information contact

Peace in Kurdistan – Trade Union network:

Stephen Smellie: Stephen Smellie


Women Alliance –  for Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria

Estella: estella



Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question


Contacts Estella Schmid: 07846 666 804 & Melanie Gingell: 07572 430903


Patrons: John Austin, Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP,  Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director,  Jill Evans, former MEP, Desmond Fernandes, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Prof Dr. Michael Gunter, Secretary-General, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), Rahila Gupta, journalist, Nick Hildyard, policy advisor,  Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, former MEP, Dr Les Levidow, Open University, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, David Morgan, journalist, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Dr Thomas Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University, Trevor Rayne, writer, Joe Ryan, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, PIK Trade Union Liaison Officer, Jonathan Steele, journalist,  Steve Sweeney, journalist,  Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward, former MEP, Kariane Westrheim, Chair, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Hywel Williams MP.