Seasonal solidarity #4: Turkish delight for freed women
As it’s Christmas Day, we’ve chosen to highlight some good news (sort of.) This month saw the release on bail of the last three of 15 Turkish women trade unionists arrested earlier in the year. Their trial is set for next April, and will probably continue for months or even years due to the (probably deliberate) dilatory approach of the Turkish judiciary which is likely to hear their cases a couple of days at a time, weeks apart. Such a drawn out legal process is designed to restrict their activity as women and as trade union activists.
The 15 women trade unionists were arrested in February and, eventually, charged with terrorism. The TUC took part in global protests at the time. The evidence presented to the court listed only legitimate trade union activity: attending meetings; photographs of a peace initiative in relation to Kurds; their work as women’s officers for unions. On 13 December, the last three of the 15 were released on bail, but their struggle goes on.
Canan Çala?an, Women’s Officer of the national trade union confederation KESK (which represents public sector workers) is one of the 15, and was bailed on 4 October. She told the International Trade Union Confederation to which KESK belongs that there are two dimensions to the repression of women in Turkey:
“One is that there are many women killed in Turkey – domestic violence. It is reported that about five women are murdered in Turkey each day. There are also sexual harassment, rape and now violence against women is more visible than before. [The government reacts] when we take a strong step to prevent this or when we demonstrate against this.”
She condemned Turkey’s governing party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“[They want] a unitary state, one leader, one religion, one nation, one language. Also, one gender!”
Turkish women trade unionists face multiple repression and harassment, but they continue to fight discrimination at work, sexual and domestic violence, and discrimination against Kurds. As they continue their fight for justice next year, we will stand with them.