Turkey: Detention of union leaders sets back relief efforts

The Deputy General Secretary of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK), Fahrettin Engin Erdoğan, was among union leaders and members detained at a protest in Istanbul yesterday.

The protest was organised by the DISK and the Confederation of Public Employees' Trade Unions (KESK) over reports of corruption hampering efforts to help victims of the country’s recent earthquake.

Members of both unions were among more than 100 people detained.  

Responding to the developments, ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“The violent suppression of a peaceful trade union demonstration in Turkey is completely unacceptable.

“Our affiliates in Turkey have played a leading role in relief efforts since the earthquake struck and its entirely proper for them to raise legitimate concerns about misuse of resources which should be going directly to those people who need it most.

“The crackdown on this peaceful protest shows why it was wrong for the government to declare a state of emergency rather than a disaster area.

“Curtailing people’s fundamental rights has no place in efforts to save lives and rebuild communities. The resources spent on doing this should be going towards the relief effort.

“Just as Turkey’s trade unions helped to save lives and support victims of the earthquake, they have an important role to play if the process of reconstruction is going to be done in a fair way.

“We urge the Turkish government engage in social dialogue with trade unions as part of the reconstruction process and call on the European Union’s High Representative on Foreign Affairs must make it clear to the Turkish authorities that fundamental rights must be respected at all times.”