Turkish Public Sector leaders released pending Trial

22 members of the Turkish public sector union KESK, including the general secretary of the teaching union Egitim Sen, were released yesterday after 10 months detention, pending trial in June.

The trade unionists had been arrested on charges of ‘terrorism’ – although all they have been guilty of is carrying out legitimate trade union activities. The Turkish government has a history of branding any form of opposition as terrorism. The trial was attended by international observers including from Education International. As a statement received by this website from Egitim Sen puts it:

Of course they’re not free of charges and the trial is ongoing still. But the release after 10 months (unnecessary and unlawful) detention have at least made their families and colleagues happy. So no member remains in prison any more about 25 June Police operation but international participants were committed to continue to follow the situation closely, including the other court cases suffered by Egitim Sen and KESK.

Please send messages of solidarity to: international@egitimsen.org.tr.

The whole statement from Egitim Sen is reproduced below:

First court hearing of 22 imprissoned trade unionists: All were released pending trial

First hearing of Egitim Sen* members who have been detained since 25 June was held yesterday in Ankara 13th High Criminal Court. Last year on 25 June, with a comprehensive police operation 72 members of different unions in KESK* (including the education union Egitim Sen) were taken into police custody, some have been released pending trial after a 3 days police custody, but 28 of them were sent into prison and had been detained till yesterday. Among them there were Egitim Sen’s general secretary Mehmet Bozgeyik and gender secretary Sakine Esen Yilmaz. The indictment of the court case could be prepared on 15 February and the first hearing date was announced as “25 June”.  And 6 detainees were released when the indictment was announced.

ETUCE member trade unions have organized a delegation for 25 June hearing to support their 22 friends who have been in prison for nearly 10 months without any concrete evindence and basis to require a detention. The delegation in Ankara for yesterday’s hearing was formed by ETUCE member unions’ representatives:  GEW, NASUWT, SNES fsu, DLF, Lararforbundet, OLME, DOE, KTOS, KTOEOS and confederations Ver.di , Vision, SUD, TCO, Communal, UGTT and also ITUC representative participated the hearing as observers.  The court also observed by many countries’ embassies and national and international human rights organizations.

On Tuesday, a press conference was organized in KESK member manucipality workers’ trade union Tum Bel Sen’s headoffice. KESK’s president Lami Ozgen, ITUC representative Frank Willems and TCO representative Thomas Janson and representatives of the unions from international delegation have adressed the press.

Next day, before the hearing KESK organized a demonstration infront of Ankara court house. KESK trade unions’ members have come together with the members of the international delegation.to demand freedom for their colleagues Members of the delegation have stated short messages on the bus which is used as a platform to adress the crowd.

The court started at 11:15 and continued until 19:00. International delegation have followed the court patiently. KESK president Lami Özgen was the first defendant to present his defense and later 22 detained defendants’ defences were heard by the court. The defendants were supported with  the participation of a group of expert lawyers. There were many  important points mentioned during the court such as,

All of the defendants were charged for having links with a terror organization but somehow they were accused for attending peaceful meetings organized in trade unions.

The indictment was founding alleged links with these activities and trade unionists.

Most of them have been subject to “technical surveillance”. Police listened to phone calls, their meetings and followed e-mails and copied them secretly.

However, it was obvious that they have never had a tool other than expressing their views and non-violent activities.

The actions and activities taking place as a proof of crime in the indictment were the ones organized by unions or democratic organizations and all of them were organized open to public.

It was obvious that there was no room for detention.

The lawyers and the defendants have criticized the courts’ and prosecutor’s unlawful methods and they displayed the reality that no detention or trial was necessary for trade union members’ peaceful and democatic use of their basic rigths and freedoms.

About 6 o’clock after all defendants have adressed the court, the prosecutor have stated that the detainees can be released. After 3 speeches from lawyers, all participants and observers were sent out of the court building and the head judge have announced after 15 minutes that he approved the release of 22 trade unionists.

Of course they’re not free of charges and the trial is ongoing still. But the release after 10 months (unnecessary and unlawful) detention have at least made their families and colleagues happy. So no member remains in prison any more about 25 June Police operation but international participants were committed to continue to follow the situation closely, including the other court cases suffered by Egitim Sen and KESK.

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