Unite statement on the current situation in Turkey

Unite statement on the current situation in Turkey

19 July 2016

In condemning the coup attempt we must not lose sight of the violent and dictatorial regime being established by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and we must continue to stand in solidarity with those who oppose it.

Unite the union condemns the attempted coup d’etat by elements of the Turkish military and expresses its deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the more than 260 people that lost their lives during the violence. Turkey has a long history of coup d’etats and they have always brought suffering and repression for millions of Turkish and Kurdish workers and their families.

However, while welcoming the failure of the coup attempt, Unite also calls on the UK and other EU governments, the UN, the wider international community, and all progressive forces, not to lose sight of the real coup d’etat that has been taking place at the hands of Turkish President Recip Tyyip Erdogan during recent years.

From first-hand experience and relations with many unions and other elements of civil society, Unite is under no doubt whatsoever that the Erdogan government has clearly embarked upon a path of authoritarian and undemocratic rule. There have been mass detentions and arrests of journalists, trade unionists, politicians and anybody associated with opposition to the current government. Given the closure of almost all independent media outlets and his attempts to close down social media, it is ironic that President Erdogan resorted to social media in order to protect his government, while for a long time denying the use of it for other social groups and the opposition.

Unite has also witnessed with growing alarm the brutal war that has been unleashed on the Kurdish civilian population of Turkey, and is deeply concerned with reports about Turkish activities in Syria. Unite reiterates its call for the Turkish government to stop the war against the Kurdish population and to return to the table so that a serious and structured peace process can begin again. The release of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan is essential for such a process to have any real chance of success.

Unite calls on the whole of the international community to be vigilant in observing how events unfold in the coming weeks and months. Governments and international bodies must not shirk from making it absolutely clear that unjustified mass detentions beyond the remit of the coup plotters is not acceptable, that the rule of law with a fully independent judiciary must be respected, that attacks on free and independent media must stop immediately, and that opposition parties, trade unions and civil society must be able to function without obstruction or repression.

In the meantime Unite will continue to stand in full solidarity with all trade unions, NGOs, progressive political parties and other elements of civil society, who seek to maintain a secular Turkey while building a real democratic system based on peace, equality and freedom for all citizens.