Jailing or Killing Union Activists is NEVER ACCEPTABLE  

I posted this yesterday on Dailykos and thought, I needed to also do it on my site.

I grew up in the union movement. I’ve been lucky to have grown up in the US because being a unionist here doesn’t always mean death, jail time or torture, it has in our past as evidenced with the treatment of Mother Jones, Joe Hill and Wesley Everest, but it’s better today than it is in many countries around the world. Countries, like Turkey.

In Turkey’s push to assist in the “war on terror” and to put aside their own internal struggles against terrorists, they have brilliantly decided that a woman in the labor movement is a terrorist.

Have you ever heard about Kevser Mizrak?

Kevser Mizrak

On 10 December 2007 a human being, a woman named Kevser Mizrak was killed in police raid to her home in Ankara

Outraged by the brutality and death of another union organizer, a group spoke out for justice. Among them was Meryem Özsögut

PSI is concerned to learn about the arrest of Ms Meryem Özsögüt on the morning of 8 January 2008. Ms Özsögüt is a management board member of the SES –the trade union of public employees in health and social services –and PSI believes that her arrest was motivated solely by her activities as a trade union leader. There are also concerns about Ms Özsögüt’s safety whilst in police custody.

The Turkish government responded to PSI noting that Ms. Özsögut

had been arrested in connection with “being a member of a terrorist organisation” and “for making propaganda in favour of the terrorist organisation”.

PSI also learned that she is being held in an “f” type prison. And what is an “f” type prison, well, it’s:

To prisoners and families with such experiences, the introduction of isolation units in prisons looks very much like an indefinite extension of the system of incommunicado detention which has facilitated abuse in police lock-ups. Indeed, accounts by prisoners and their families suggest that, as in police custody, guards in F-type prisons have taken advantage of the closed environment to beat and abuse their charges. Legal and medical institutions that could document, challenge, and prevent such abuses have had only limited access.

A union activist in Turkey is jailed for showing up at a press conference to denounce the death of another union activist and the world outside of Turkey and PSI seems silent. Silent, until Labourstart took up the cause.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Eric Lee of Labourstart about Ms Meryem Özsögüt and I promptly put up a post on her confinement. And I feel like that’s all I can do. Sign the petition and put up a post. Then I got to thinking about our Foreign Policy and how the “war on terror” is used to jail enemies of all shapes, sizes, creeds and well, you get the picture.

I’ve been thinking that if the US government could get away with the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib or the continued detention without charges or how many people in Guantanamo, then what hope is there really for Ms Meryem Özsögüt. And when I got to this point - the hopelessness of the cause point- I figured, this is where we fight. It only starts with the petition but it doesn’t end with the release of Ms Meryem Özsögüt, it ends when violence and silence of dissent are no longer tolerated. But it starts today, and it starts with all of us.

So, sign the petition:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan
Republic of Turkey

cc Mr Besir Atalay, Minister of Interior
Mr Faruk Çelik, Minister of Work and Social Security

I write to urge you to secure the immediate release of Ms Özsögüt and to take any necessary steps to guarantee her safety.

I have been informed that Ms Özsögüt was arrested following her participation in a press conference on 14 December 2007 to denounce the killing of Kevser Mizrak. Ms Özsögüt’s attendance at the press conference was the result of a fax message received by her trade union, requesting that the union participate in the press conference. I understand that at no time before or during this press conference did the police or other authorities issue a warning that such a gathering or activity was viewed as 'illegal'.

I have been further informed that several other people who were arrested at or around the same time as Ms Özsögüt, ostensibly for the same reasons, have since been released. However, Ms Özsögüt remains in custody and her trial has now been postponed several times.

I call on your Government to secure the immediate release of Ms Özsögüt, to take any necessary steps to guarantee her safety, to take the appropriate steps to ensure that all public sector workers are fully guaranteed their right to organise, form trade unions and carry out legitimate trade union activities both in law and in practice without State interference.

Yours sincerely

Sign the petition and join me in letting the Government of Turkey know that jailing and killing union activists isn’t acceptable. But even more importantly, I want to make it clear that when we are able to elect Obama President, we’re holding him accountable, and his administration, for trade agreements with countries that behave in this manner.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Post a Comment