Trades Unions Condemn Turkish Repressions

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BELOW is a declaration issued on Tuesday by the international commission of the central council of Russia’s University Solidarity trade union, on the repression of educational employees in Turkey.

‘The international commission firmly condemns the campaign of repression, unleashed by the Turkish authorities after the unsuccessful attempt at a military coup on 15-16 July, and directed against workers in the education system, among others.

‘Under the contrived pretext of dealing with accomplices of the coup, the regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan began a large-scale “purge”, with the aim of crushing civil opposition to authoritarianism and the Islamisation of Turkey.

‘More than 15,000 employees of state educational institutions and more than 20,000 teachers in private schools have been dismissed, and 1,577 university deans removed. This amounts to a blow struck by the authorities against those social and professional groups who, in their majority, favour Turkey’s progress in a democratic and secular direction.

‘We express our support for teachers and university lecturers in Turkey and demand from the Turkish authorities that they immediately end this repressive policy, and respect fully the labour and civil rights of employees in education and in other sectors.

‘We call on international intergovernmental organisations, federations of trade unions and structures of global civil society to put the greatest possible pressure on the Erdogan regime, to defend our Turkish colleagues from this unjust persecution.’

Meanwhile, the ongoing crackdown on the media in Turkey has led to the arrests of more journalists and raids on their homes. The International and the European Federation of journalists (IFJ/EFJ) on Tuesday denounced the deterioration of democratic rule, of which press freedom is one of the pillars.

On 22 July, Zehra Dogan, painter and editor at women’s news agency JINHA, was arrested by police in Mardin, south-east of Turkey. She was taken to the Nusaybin police office the following day. During the interrogation, she was accused of ‘being a member of the terrorist organisation PKK’. The anti-terror prosecutor Irfan Fidan has also today issued arrest warrants for 42 journalists.

According to Anatolian News Agency, the journalists targeted are: Abdullah Abdulkadiroglu, Abdullah Kiliç, Ahmet Dönmez, Ali Akkus, Arda Akin, Nazli Ilicak, Bayram Kaya, Bilal fiahin, Bülent Ceyhan, Bülent Mumay, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cevheri Güven, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Emre Soncan, Ercan Gün, Erkan Akkus, Ertugrul Erbas, Fatih Akalan, Fatih Yagmur, Habip Güler, Hanim Büsra Erdal, Hasim Söylemez, Hüseyin Aydin, Ibrahim Balta, Kamil Maman, Kerim Gün, Levent Kenez, Mahmut Hazar, Mehmet Gündem, Metin Yikar, Muhammed Fatih Ugur, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mürsel Genç, Selahattin Sevi, Seyid Kiliç, Turan Görüryilmaz, Ufuk Sanli, Ufuk Emin Köroglu, Yakup Saglam and Yakup Çetin.

On his Twitter account Bülent Mumay tweeted: ‘The only organisation that I’m a member of is (the) Turkish Journalists Association (TGC). My only profession is journalism.’

Among those targeted by the warrants was prominent journalist and former parliamentarian Nazli Ilicak who was fired from the pro-government Sabah daily in 2013 for criticising ministers caught up in a corruption scandal, TV media reported.

IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: ‘Since the failed coup we have had to react even more against the media crackdown in Turkey. The new arrest warrants revealed today are aimed, one more time, to target journalists who are doing their jobs, criminalising the journalistic work.

‘The Turkish people that went on the streets on 23 July were showing their attachment to democratic values through their attachment to authorities elected by votes. Press freedom is an essential component of democracy. And clearly, it is even more at stake today.’

EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard said: ‘We call again on the NGOs and the international community to put pressure on the Turkish government to reinstate the rule of law. More and more journalists are facing intimidation, arrest or imprisonment and this purge must stop immediately. We stand in solidarity with our Turkish colleagues.’

In a sign of unrelenting targeting of media, the Turkish authorities have banned publication of the special edition of the satirical magazine LeMan after a court issued an order on 20 July stopping the printing and distribution of the issue.

The following day, 300 staff at the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation were suspended from their jobs as part of the investigation into the Fetullah organisation (FETO) – named as a terrorist organisation by the government – reports said.

In the meanwhile, 60 reporters, including editors, reporters and technical staff were fired from the Cihan news agency by the Court-appointed trustees. Turkey has declared a three-month state of emergency and detained more than 13,000 people in the military, judiciary and other institutions following the failed coup aimed at toppling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 16 July.

Under the state of emergency, Turkish authorities can hold suspects in detention without charge for up to 30 days before they are taken to a judge to decide whether to remain in jail.

A number of leading Turkish companies have fired hundreds of personnel amid ongoing investigations following the failed July 15 military coup attempt, several media outlets have reported.

Turkey’s national flag carrier Turkish Airlines has fired 211 employees, including a vice general manager and a number of cabin crew members. The dismissals at the company occurred late on July 24, upon accusations that some employees had links to the movement of US-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, which the ruling Justice and Government Party (AKP) claims was behind the coup plot.

Others were fired due to ‘inefficiency problems,’ government sources told news agencies. Turkish Airlines also announced to the Public Disclosure Platform that Murat Seker had replaced Coskun as the new deputy CEO, responsible for financial matters.

Meanwhile, the head of AnadoluJet, Ibrahim Doban, has also been fired along with three presidents, two vice presidents, 15 pilots, and cabin crew personnel, Doban News Agency reported.

Aviation news site Airporthaber.com first reported the firings early on July 25. Separately, landline operator Türk Telekom sacked 198 people on July 22 in ‘cooperation with the security forces’, saying that a number of managers had been summoned by prosecutors to testify in connection with the ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile, the two owners of a leading cooling systems company, Ubur Cooling Systems, were detained in the Aegean district of Nazilli early on July 25.

• Amnesty International has reported credible evidence of the rape and abuse of detained soldiers as part of the Turkish government crackdown. Amnesty International has claimed torture is being used to cleanse the regime of enemies. Amnesty’s Europe director John Dalhuisen said: ‘Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week.

‘The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention. It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.’

Amnesty said a lawyer who visited a detention centre told its researchers: ‘Police held detainees in stress positions, denied them food, water and medical treatment, verbally abused and threatened them and subjected them to beatings and torture, including rape and sexual assault.

‘Two lawyers in Ankara working on behalf of detainees told Amnesty International that detainees said they witnessed senior military officers in detention being raped with a truncheon or finger by police officers.’