EPSU/PSI demands respect for the right to expression, right to demonstrate and the right to strike action in Turkey

05 June 2013
Taksim square, Istanbul
EPSU/PSI has expressed its concerns to the Turkish government over the reports of police violence and arrests of opponents of the government. People have the right to express their concerns and engage in protests and industrial action against government policy they disagree with. ITUC and others have launched a campaign to protest against the police brutality.

The world has been shocked by the brutal repression of demonstrators who were peacefully protesting against plans to change the Gezi- park into a shopping mall in Istanbul. They were beaten, tear-gassed and chased out of the park. These police actions led to further and continued protests in Istanbul and other cities over the last few days. Two people have died during these protests. Many hundreds have been injured and taken into custody. We have received reports that police are using the actions to arrest opponents of the government.

One of our trade union colleagues gave this account of what happened via social media, an important source of information and expression as the official media and mainstream newspapers are very silent on the actions:

“My hands and legs are full of wounds and bruises due to falling on the ground tens of times every time water cannons attacked. We are trying to learn the kind of chemical that they are using in that water, cos the first feeling that you are experiencing is like “choking”. If we can find out, we could develop a heal for it. My ears are still ringing after the explosion of hundreds of blast bombs just at our feet. And the pepper gas bombs! You can’t imagine how much of them were shot into our faces, directed to our heads, rained from the sky. However, these are not the things that are hurting and making me cry now. I can’t erase the scene in my eyes which is showing the hateful expression on the faces of the police! No mercy, no humanity! “

EPSU affiliated unions have expressed support for the demands of the protestors and some will be joining demonstrations and strikes 5 June which have been called for by DISK and KESK (see related links). Union members and citizens will march on Taksim square. Many protestors and unions also express their opposition to the government of prime-minister Erdogan and the ruling AKP party as they are concerned about the continued police violence, attacks on democracy and continuing inequalities in Turkish society.

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