The first hearing of the case against 15 women trade unionists of the Turkish Confederation of Public Employees Unions (KESK) was held in Ankara on 4 October. Nine of the 15 have been in prison, awaiting a court hearing, for eight months.
Thousands of people — many KESK members — came from around Turkey to protest outside the court and show their support for the women trade-unionists. TKESK chairman Lami Özgen made a speech emphasising the hardships of being a woman, a Kurd and member of a fighting union like KESK in Turkey.
Many representatives came from abroad to show their support and demand the trade unionists be freed.
At 9pm we heard that six of the nine jailed women had been released.
Since 2009 many trade unionists have faced police repression and harassment after a police operation under the name of “KCK operation” started. Koma Civakên Kurdistan (KCK) is the new umbrella organisation of the Kurdish national liberation movement.
Since then hundreds of KESK members and officials have been taken into detention and 76 of them arrested, including chairman Lami Özgen (though later released). Police raids targeting the union premises and homes of trade unionists are still going on. No union officials are allowed to be present during these raids; they break in the offices, confiscate the computers etc.
That all of the trade unionists arrested are Kurds clearly shows that the attack is aimed at repressing Kurdish people’s democratic demands. KESK members and officials are accused of “terrorism”. But the AKP government also wants desire to crush the trade union movement and social opposition.
The current detainees were questioned about their involvement in International Women’s Day demonstrations. Why did they join the demonstrations? Under whose orders? Participating in rallies demanding peace and democracy is treated as a crime.
KESK calls on all public employees, unions and democratic mass organisations to support KESK members.