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Turkey: IndustriALL repeats its call for full democracy as crackdown on fundamental rights escalates

18 August, 2016In the wake of the failed coup in Turkey on 15 July 2016, a state of emergency was declared, leading to an unacceptable crackdown on democratic rights.

IndustriALL unequivocally condemns the coup of 15 July. While the Erdoğan administration has grown increasingly anti-democratic, a military coup lead by another faction of the elite is no solution to the problems the country faces. Turkey needs more democracy, not less.

The coup attempt was allegedly led by members of the congregation founded by the self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, and defeated thanks to people at the grassroots rallying to the defense of democracy. Without a popular base of support, it could not succeed.

However, the Erdoğan administration has used the opportunity of the coup to suspend democracy and declare a three month state of emergency covering the whole country, approved by parliament on 21 July by 346 (AKP and MHP) votes to 115 (CHP and HDP), for the first time since the military dictatorship of 1980. The country is now run through government decrees and executive orders, subject to approval by the Parliament after they are issued.

In the month since the coup, the government has embarked on a large scale crackdown, not just against alleged conspirators, but also against democratic opposition and civil society, with the claim that they are also connected with the failed coup attempt. This appears to have turned into a witch-hunt.

So far, around 80,000 people have been suspended from work, and some 5,000 have been sacked. According to recent reports, more than 20,000 people have been detained and many remain in custody. This includes thousands of teachers and educators, journalists, civil servants, judges and even football coaches.

There are public reports and images that many of these workers are union members who have been suspended from work with no due process, with some being subject to beating and torture torture.

The European Convention on Human Rights has been suspended by the government, and more than 130 newspapers, TV and radio stations have been closed, schools, hospitals and companies have been shut, political parties and union offices have been raided, and private property has been confiscated.

This is in addition to an existing crackdown of workers’ rights, which has seen our Turkish unions struggling to defend members in extremely difficult circumstances.

IndustriALL Global Union shares the deep concerns of its sister global unions Education International and Public Services International about Turkey’s ongoing and large scale violations of core International Labour Organization standards.

IndustriALL believes that without credible evidence demonstrating illegal activity with the purpose of bringing down the Turkish government, no worker should be suspended or dismissed.

The state of emergency gives extensive rights to governors to arbitrarily intervene to stop union activities, such as banning the printing and distribution of leaflets or any other union bulletins.

IndustriALL supports the call to stop using failed coup attempt as a union busting excuse. Unions around the world have condemned the repression, and called for solidarity in defense of democracy and workers’ rights in Turkey. Along with the stance of IndustriALL affiliates worldwide, sister global organizations the ITUC and ETUC expressed great concern at the purge and the International Federation of Journalists has denounced the detention of scores of journalists.

IndustriALL is deeply concerned about the developments in Turkey, and stands in solidarity with our Turkish affiliates and the people of Turkey in their struggle for democracy.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“We demand that those responsible for the coup and for the deaths of 249 innocent people be identified, and held responsible through a transparent judicial process.

“The coup must not be used as justification to crackdown on opposition groups, civil society and trade unions.                            

“We demand the Turkish authorities respect and apply fundamental rights in line with the international and European standards to which the Government has already subscribed.

“Turkey needs democracy and peace, so all of its people can freely practice their beliefs, express their thoughts and live in dignity. We will continue to support our affiliates and the people of Turkey in their struggle for democracy.”