ITUC OnLine – June 02, 2009

Turkey: Dozens of Trade Unionists Arrested on Terrorism Charges

Brussels, 2 June 2009 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC and Education International (EI) strongly protest against the intervention by the Turkish police against the Confederation of Public Employees’ Unions (KESK) and the teachers’ union Egitim Sem, which is in its turn affiliated to KESK.

On Thursday 28 May 2009, the Turkish police invaded the KESK headquarters in Ankara and the Kesk local branch offices in Izmir, Istanbul, Van and Manisa. According to the information received by the ITUC, more than 30 Egitim Sem members were arrested. Six of them were released the same day, after having their statements taken by the police. The others remain in detention, and apparently some have been sexually harassed. According to the Turkish press, the operation was “set up in the framework of a bigger operation aimed at cracking down on the terrorist organisation PKK”.

“What happened last week in Turkey is just unacceptable,” said Guy Ryder, ITUC general secretary. “This is simply part of an anti-union harassment plan which goes against Convention 87 on freedom of association of the International Labour Organisation, ratified by Turkey 16 year ago! Imprisoned trade unionists must be freed and all other threats of imprisonment against independent trade unionists for their legitimate activities be lifted. The fundamental rights of Turkish workers to freedom of association and collective bargaining are still being denied by the authorities, and we call upon them to respect these rights, enshrined in ILO Conventions.”

In a letter sent to the Turkish government, the ITUC and EI urge Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to instruct the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all the trade unionists arrested and to respect without delay fundamental rights in Turkey.

Guatemala: Abductions and Death Threats
Brussels, 2 June 2009 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC strongly condemns and denounces the latest abductions and death threats together with the climate of violence and impunity prevailing in Guatemala.
Trade union leader Efrén Emigdio Sandoval Sanabria, a member of the coordinating board of the ITUC affiliate UNSITRAGUA (Unión Sindical de Trabajadores de Guatemala) and of the political council of the Guatemalan labour, indigenous and campesino movement, MSICG, has been the target of repeated death threats, issued in various forms. On 27 May, he received threats of abduction, torture and murder by e-mail, reminiscent of those used during the years of armed conflict.
The following day, on 28 May, Victoriano Zacarías Míndez, deputy general secretary of another of our affiliates, the CGTC (Confederación Central General de Trabajadores de Guatemala), who is also a member of the political council of the Guatemalan labour, indigenous and campesino movement (MSICG), was abducted by armed men.  Fortunately, he manager to escape from his captors unharmed.
The national, regional and international trade union movements have once again joined with the Guatemalan labour, indigenous and campesino movement (MSICG) in condemning the violence and impunity affecting the day-to-day lives of the Guatemalan people and in demanding solutions.
In a letter to the Guatemalan authorities, the ITUC has called on President Alvaro Colom to take every measure necessary to fight against the political and social instability prevailing in Guatemala as well as to ensure that those responsible for these acts are tracked down and brought to justice and, by so doing, to bring an end to the violence and impunity in the country.
“It is essential that violence and impunity be eradicated in Guatemala,” said Guy Ryder, general secretary of the ITUC, “and that a strong democracy be established so that working people can freely exercise their fundamental rights.” 

The ITUC represents 170 million workers in 312 affiliated national organisations from 157 countries.  For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2224 0204 or +32 476 621 018.

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