UNISON has pledged to continue its support for workers’ rights in Turkey through initiatives from the European Federation of Public Service Union (EPSU) and Public Service International (PSI). This will include putting pressure the UK Government to prioritise human rights and democracy in its negotiations with Turkey – calling for fair hearings and re-instatement for public service workers arbitrarily dismissed, an end to the repression of the Kurdish people, the lifting of media outlet closures and release of jailed journalists, and the release of political prisoners and to resume the peace process.
The union will also urge the UK government along with the EU member states to support the resettlement of refugees from Turkey rather than returning refugees and asylum seekers to Turkey on the flawed basis it is a safe third country.
Margaret Gallacher, South Lanarkshire, supporting the NEC motion, said, “There is just so much to say about the horrific situation in Turkey, and in Scotland we’ve been passing motions on various issues in support of the oppressed in Turkey in the last few years and in particular in support of the Kurds who have been persecuted in Turkey for many many years.”
Margaret put it simply, “In Turkey if you are a trade unionist you are a target. If you are a Kurd you are a terrorist. If you are a woman you have no right to a voice.”
She alluded to Margaret Atwood ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and compared it to the situation in Turkey, “You will see how easy it is to subvert democracy and subdue particular sections of society. It starts with women being subjugated by having their bank cards voided and workplaces were emptied with the removal of their right to work.”
“That’s what has happened to thousands in Turkey, where the government used terror laws to clamp down on legitimate activities such as trade unionism and journalism and jail trade unionists, journalists, members of women’s groups and public sector workers. They removed the right to work from thousands more and if your bank account was held in certain banks your funds would be frozen and you could also be jailed for banking at that particular bank.
Margaret told us that the South Lanarkshire Branch runs a solidarity campaign sending postcards to female prisoners in Turkish jails and urged other branches to build links with prisoners, trade unions and women’s groups in Turkey and pointed out that they had managed to persuade some of our Scottish politicians to pair themselves with jailed politicians in Turkey and show solidarity at trials.
Margaret urged, “We must demand that Turkey frees all political prisoners, including Abdullah Ocalan who is revered by millions of Kurds and as their political leader is key to re-establishing real democracy and peace in Turkey. While he’s imprisoned and kept in solitary confinement there can be no reconciliation between the Kurds and the Turkish Government.”
She concluded, “Turkey has to listen and know that the world is watching and our government needs to stop selling arms to Turkey and cosying up to the dictator Erdogan.”