Unite calls for the immediate release of the arrested ...

Unite calls for the immediate release of the arrested co-mayors of Diyarbakir, Turkey

27 October 2016

Britain’s largest union, Unite strongly condemned Tuesday evening’s (25 October) detention of the co-mayors of Diyarbakir Ms Gültan Kışanak and Mr Fırat Anlı today (Thursday 27 October) and the subsequent police attacks on civilians who were protesting against these unlawful and anti-democratic arrests of their elected representatives

The co-mayors have been arrested as part of an alleged ‘terrorism investigation,’ and are part of a long list of Kurdish mayors who have been sacked and replaced with state-appointed  trustees under emergency powers enacted after the coup attempt in July this year. 

Unite  strongly believes that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has used the failed coup in July 2016 as an opportunity to repress those who oppose him and used his failure to gain an absolute majority in the June 2015 general  election to relaunch the war against the Kurds. 

Thousands, including trade unionists, journalists, teachers, politicians and people associated with opposition to the current government have been suspended from their jobs, detained and arrested with dozens of media outlets closed or taken over by the state.  

Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı have been prominent critics of the Erdoğan government’s war against the Kurdish population and like many who have spoken out in Turkey, have now been detained.

Kate Osamor MP, who visited Diyarbakir this month as part of a solidarity delegation, said about the events: “I am deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation unfolding in Turkey and the extreme repression being imposed on the Kurdish population. This latest attack on elected representatives is a clear indication that the government of president Erdoğan is accelerating down the path of authoritarian rule with democracy and civil society suffering real repression. 

“I once again call on the wider international community to engage more actively to ensure basic rights and democratic freedoms are protected in this dangerously turbulent time in Turkey.”

Unite international director Simon Dubbins, said: “This is yet a further stepping up in Erdoğan’s war against the Kurdish population of Turkey. Unite has witnessed first-hand the massive and disproportionate force that has been used in Kurdish cities such as Cizre, Silopi and Diyarbakir itself. Unite will continue to demand that the attacks on the Kurds end. 

“Unite once again calls on governments and international bodies to make it absolutely clear that unjustified detentions are not acceptable, that the rule of law with a fully independent judiciary must be respected. Attacks on free and independent media must stop immediately and opposition parties, trade unions, elected representatives and civil society must be able to function without obstruction or repression.

“Unite will continue to stand in full solidarity with the Kurds and  all progressive forces in Turkey who seek to maintain a secular Turkey while building a real democratic system based on peace, equality and freedom for all citizens.

“Unite calls for the immediate release of Ms Gültan Kışanak and Mr Fırat Anlı and their reinstatement as the democratically elected co mayors of Diyarbakir.”


For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.

Notes to editors

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey