Campaign: write to your MP to call to account Turkey’s attack on the HDP and its MPs

Erdogan and the AKP’s attacks on elected democratic opposition, particularly the HDP have reached new heights.

Many HDP MPs were already in prison and facing false charges of “terrorism”, including the former co-chairs of the HDP Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag. In recent weeks we have witnessed prominent HDP MP Gergerlioglu stripped of his MP status and forced out of parliament and Turkish prosecutors have taken steps to shut down the HDP completely.

These developments are hugely worrying. For some time Erdogan and the AKP have been dismantling the foundations of democracy and using presidential powers and the politicised judiciary to suppress all forms of dissent. 

As SPOT we are urging our elected MPs and the UK government  to call to account Erdogan and the AKP’s unacceptable attack on democracy and human rights in Turkey.

Please join us by writing to your local MP to raise the issue and ask them speak out with us!

Write to your MP, template below:

Dear <<name of mp>>

My name is << insert name here>> and I’m writing to you today about serious concerns about democracy in Turkey, an ally of the British government. The People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which received 11.7 per cent support with nearly 6 million votes in the 2018 parliamentary elections, is facing yet another attack.

Most recently, a Turkish prosecutor has filed a case to demand the closure of the party. Turkey has a long history of shutting down pro-Kurdish political parties, and the crackdown against the HDP has been escalating since 2016 when its former co-chairs were imprisoned. HDP MPs have also had their parliamentary immunities removed and imprisoned by the politically led judiciary system.

The recent indictment demonstrates the scale of pressure on the HDP which has consistently opposed the interventionist politics of the ruling party, advocated democratisation and pushed for the recognition of fundamental rights for Kurdish people.

The court case against the HDP will impact the future of the country and is unacceptable both from a political and a moral perspective.

I call on you to urge the UK government to condemn these attacks on the HDP and call to account President Erdogan and the ruling AKP for its attacks on democracy, rule of law and human rights in Turkey.

Please respond to my letter as soon as possible and outline the steps you intend to take to address my concerns.

I look forward to hearing your response in due course.

Yours sincerely,

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Poverty and desperation in Turkey lead to increasing suicides amongst workers

The deep socio-economic crisis under the AKP regime has led to working families and individuals facing poverty and desperation, with an increase in suicides particularly amongst young people. 

Unal Cetinkaya, a 25 year old construction worker killed himself in what appears to be one of a series of five suicides in the last five days in Kocaeli, Turkey.

“These are my final hours. I never wanted to do this but I cannot cope with the financial trouble.” Cetinkaya said in his suicide note.

Tugay Adak (28), Ahmet Tari (26), Samet Ozer (32) and Kadir Gunduz (28) also committed suicide at the same province in the last week to escape hunger and extreme poverty.

There is a strong correlation between the socio-economic circumstances in Turkey and suicidal despair. As the political and economic conditions deteriorate in the country, deaths from suicide cannot be seen as isolated individual cases.

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Bogazici resistance call for solidarity as detainees are beaten and tortured

Students at Bogazici University in Istanbul began their protests nearly a month ago against the appointment of a new rector by President Erdogan. As resistance grows, more than 220 people were detained over the solidarity protests in Istanbul and Ankara in the last two days. There are numerous posts on the social media displaying torture or other ill-treatment footages against the protestors.

One of the videos of police brutality during protests in Istanbul has caused outrage which captures multiple police officers physically assaulting an already detained protestor. Police also used disproportionate force against the students and the public ahead of the solidarity protest in Ankara.

Bogazici University students, who were released after being detained, filed criminal complaints over torture and ill-treatments under detention.

Police also targeted journalists reporting at the rally. Halk TV reporter Erdinc Yılmaz and cameraman Murat Erkmen were both hit by rubber bullets as they were covering the demonstrations in Istanbul. Documentary director Kazim Kizil also suffered a serious injury on his face, near his eye.

Bogazici solidarity group said in their Twitter account that earlier today police had made other detentions at bus stops across Istanbul without valid justification to prevent a large crowd gathering in one place.

Bogazici students are calling for solidarity under these hastags:

#9dacama #AsağıyaBakmayacağız #BogaziciDireniyor #BogaziciSusmayacak

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Suspicions mount over Turkish security force involvement in disappearance of Gokhan Gunes

Gokhan Gunes, a member of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) in Turkey has been missing since 20 January 2021. The disappearance of Gunes, a left wing activist, has brought to the fore the increase in disappearances in Turkey and there is now a widespread call for accountability as to the whereabouts of Gunes.  

Video footage shows that four people surrounded Gunes on his way to work in Istanbul and dragged him into a waiting car. The footage of the abduction was captured by a surveillance camera which the family were able to obtain by their own initiative. Gunes’ family have contacted the police but the authorities have so far denied that he is being held in custody and have launched an investigation into the person that passed the surveillance footage to the family.

Gunes’ family strongly believes that the unknown perpetrators are from state forces since Gokhan has been subjected to threats and harassment and an attempted kidnapping by them in the past. According to the report by the Morning Star newspaper, an ESP spokesperson, Cengiz Fidan said that one of the methods used by the state to stop socialists is through forced disappearances and pressure to become a state agent. Meanwhile police have also arrested 12 people who were protesting the abduction of Gokhan Gunes.

Feryal Clark, Labour MP for Enfield North, also commented on the kidnapping of Gunes on her Twitter account.  “It’s extremely concerning to hear about further forced disappearance of political activist in Turkey, the latest Mr Gokhan Gunes.” said Clark and called on Amnesty International for an investigation to determine the whereabouts of Gokhan Gunes.

SPOT calls for solidarity against these increasing attacks on the members of progressive forces in Turkey and for accountability for Gokhan Gunes and all enforced disappearances. 

#GökhanGüneşNerede

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Erdogan’s mocking freedom of press speech

President Erdogan has claimed that under his rule media has become “more vocal and more free” in Turkey. The reality is that Turkey remains the worst jailer of journalists globally and is 154th inin the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. 

Speaking on the occasion of January 10 Working Journalists’ Day, Erdogan said “As Turkey, we will never give up on freedom of the press”.  These lies by Erdogan cannot mask the reality that journalists across Turkey that dare to write, speak, publish or broadcast anything  critical of Erdogan and the AKP face criminalisation and harassment.  The severity of the repression of the media can be see in the increasing number of systematic investigations, prosecution, intimidations and harassment towards journalists and is a constant reminder of Erdogan’s  total lack of respect for freedom of press and the freedom of expression in Turkey.

At least 808 journalists have been arrested during the AKP rule and 87 journalists were sent to prison in 2020 alone. For example Evrensel, a daily newspaper in Turkey, was fined for an advert featuring a girl holding a yellow, green and yellow scarf.

International solidarity is crucial to oppose the oppression by Erdogan’s government against freedom of press.

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Baldur Factory Workers Strike for Union Recognition


Workers at the Baldur Factory in Sekerpinar Organised Industrial Zone in Gebze, which manufactures suspension components and other parts for the automotive industry, were fired in 2016 for joining a branch of Birlesik Metal Is (United Metal Workers) Union, a progressive labour union.  

At that time the workers were forced to become members of Turkish Metal Workers Union which is a union supported by bosses, known as a yellow union. However workers continued to resist despite facing various pressures and after years of struggle they once again unionised under the Gebze No.2 branch of the United Metal Workers’ Union (Birlesik Metal İs).

Recently the union received the authorisation for to represent the workers’ rights and contract procedures. During this process, the Baldur bosses continually objected to the authority of the union. Once again the workers from Birlesik Metal-İs Union were fired on the same day that the union gained their authorisation at the Sekerpinar.

As a result Baldur workers have voted in favour of a strike in order to push for recognition of their trade union rights. Baldur bosses have hired 15 workers as strike-breakers, and the police force have threatened striking protestors and arrested four of those on strike.  Despite these intimidation tactics, the workers of Baldur factory did not allow their unity to be broken and as of today have started their resistance.

Representatives of major labour organisations and members of progressive political parties have joined the picket lines to show solidarity with the workers.

Ercument Akdeniz, General Chair of Labour Party, joined the picket line to support the workers and stressed that these kind of foreign capital forces flourish with anti-labour policies, “They can get strength from the one-man regime, but here we have the working class, we have our party. We will carry this strike to success, arm in arm with the workers.”

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Impunity for killings by police in Kurdish Provinces

 

Omer Yeğit, a Turkish policeman crashed an armoured vehicle into a house in Silopi -a town in Şırnak province in the southeast of Turkey- killing siblings Muhammed (7) and Furkan Yıldırım (6) as they were sleeping inside their house on 3 May 2017.

Shortly after, Ali İhsan Su, who was then the governor of Şırnak described the incident as “destiny” and the policeman Yeğit was released immediately at the first hearing.

The trial was completed last year and the policeman -who lacked a licence to operate the vehicle- was convicted of “involuntary manslaughter” and sentenced to two years and one month in prison. This was later reduced to a 19,000 Turkish lira (£1680) fine.  Policeman Murat Maden, who was Yeğit’s supervisor at that time, was acquitted of all charges.

The representatives of the Yıldırım family went to the appeals court, which yesterday ruled that the lower court’s sentences are “in accordance with the law.”

There are too many incidents involving armoured vehicles in Turkey’s Kurdish populated provinces. According to the Human Rights Association (İHD) in the last decade armoured police vehicles have killed 36 people and 16 of those were children.

Particularly in Şırnak at least 76 children have been killed via police shooting or armoured vehicles in the past ten years. In Turkey there are extraordinary obstacles to bringing perpetrators to justice and even when a judiciary process takes place, there is a climate of impunity for government security forces.

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We stand with Jeremy Corbyn

As Solidarity with the People of Turkey, we stand with Jeremy Corbyn and condemn his suspension from the Labour Party.

Corbyn has a strong record of campaigning against racism in all its forms and repeated this week that one antisemite in the Labour party is one too many. He has actively stood up for the rights of all communities and backgrounds both in the UK and across the world.

For many years Corbyn has stood in solidarity with the Turkish and the Kurdish community in the UK and has helped to challenge the attacks on democracy and minority rights in Turkey.

We call for the reinstatement of Corbyn to the Labour Party, and for an open and respectful debate within the labour movement about how to combat antisemitism and other forms of racism.

 

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Turkey downplays strength of earthquake as death toll rises

Turkey’s coast (Izmir) and north of the Greek island of Samos were struck by a 7 magnitude earthquake yesterday, in which homes were destroyed and many have been killed and injured.

Turkey claimed the magnitude was lower, at 6.6, but it is widely accepted that this is inaccurate. Prof Dr Övgün Ahmet Ercan from Istanbul Technical University spoke on Fox TV news in relation to the earthquake in Izmir, saying that the official figures by the Turkish government purposefully down played the strength of the earthquake, “there is a large difference between 6.6 and 7, one is almost the strength of 2 atomic bombs and the other is almost the strength of 40 atomic bombs”.

At least 25 people have died and 831 people were injured in the province of Izmir.

Ercan also said “For the earthquake problem to be resolved in this country you need to sort out the economy. The more poverty there is the closer an earthquake is. It is the poor that die in an earthquake, not the rich.”

Ercan added “You have never heard of a famous person or a wealthy person being pulled out from under the rubble, and you will not because in the making of the building they won’t have tried to save money. Earthquakes are a problem for the poor. For as long as we don’t defeat poverty earthquakes will mean death.”

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Turkey monitors activists using illegal German Spyware  

German authorities have raided the offices of FinFisher, a Munich software company, which makes surveillance tools and has been accused in the past of providing software to oppressive regimes. German prosecutors launched the investigation upon the criminal complaint of GFF (Society for Civil Rights), a Berlin based non-profit human rights organisation.

According to “zdnet.com” – a website which provides technology news- FinFisher software has been “used against Turkish opposition activists.” The spyware can access address books, photos and listen to phone calls.

The surveillance program manufacturer is accused of violating Germany’s “Foreign Trade Act” via selling software system abroad without proper authorisation.

Germany strictly regulates this kind of technology exportation and Turkey does not have a licence to buy the monitoring software.

In 2018 German media reported that, this surveillance software had been used against opposition activists in Turkey. Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) made similar accusations about Finfisher back in 2017.

Sarah Lincoln, a lawyer at GFF said that “German companies should not be pawn of an oppressive regime.”

 

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