Friday 23 April 2021

STUC Congress 2021 - Congress condemns attacks on human rights in Turkey by Erdogan government

Fiona Napier
Supporting the motion from Aberdeen Trades Union Council, STUC Congress condemned the continuing deterioration of democracy and human rights in Turkey and called for the release from prison of elected politicians, journalists and trade union activists.

It backed calls for the restoration of negotiations with Abdullah Öcalan and the PKK for a peaceful settlement for the Kurdish question in Turkey.

Delegates also condemned the invasion of northern Syria by Turkey in October 2019 and the General Council will demand the UK government ends all arms sales to Turkey and hold them accountable for war crimes committed in Syria.

Moving the motion, ATUC’s Fiona Napier told Congress that it has been heart breaking at times to hear some of the contributions over the last few days and to hear of the struggles workers have faced over the past difficult year.

“But it’s also so inspiring see and hear the energy and determination from everyone to make a difference, and it really gives hope that maybe we will see the radical changes we all want to see.”

She added that in the challenging times ahead, we must not forget comrades around the world who are fighting their own battles, especially when they ask for our help and solidarity, and thanked the STUC for the chance to bring this important motion to this year’s Congress.

Fiona condemned Turkey under Erdogan, “where we are witnessing a vicious assault on democratic freedoms and human rights, brazenly carried out in full view. The ruthless crackdown on progressive voices and activists we’ve seen over the past years is not only continuing but is actually intensifying,” slammed Fiona. 

She spoke of how a particular target is the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), with thousands of party members imprisoned, including former MPs and mayors and the party’s former co-chairs.

“And in a few days, on 26th April 108 leading members of the HDP will face trial in Ankara for calling on people to protest against the ISIS attack on Kobanê over six years ago – at the time the 108 formed the HDPs Central Executive Board. If found guilty, they could face life imprisonment.

“I’m highlighting the HDP as a most recent example, but they are obviously not the only target – journalists, trade unionists are also targeted – and women’s rights.

“When international governments and institutions fail to act, it falls to civil society to do so and the trade union movement should be at the forefront.

“The actions we are asking General Council to take are important - to show that what is happening in Turkey will not go unchallenged - that our governments shameful inaction will be challenged - and importantly show comrades in Turkey that they are not alone.”

She also called on delegates to take an individual action, to support the HDP’s call for international support on 26th April, the day the trial starts. Everyone can join the online demo by taking a selfie of themselves, holding a message of support, and send to SSK. 

Here is the link for the online SSK rally Please join in if you can.