Turkey is the only country to ban the celebration of World Peace Day

Countries all over the world have been recognising World Peace Day and calling for peace on 1st September. Meanwhile in Turkey calling for peace is considered as “terrorism”.

The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) wanted to call for peace in Diyarbakir, Van and Ankara but were met with police prohibitions and many people were arrested.

The police attacked HDP members and supporters who wanted to commemorate the deaths of 103 people who died on 10 October 2015 (in a terrorist attack on a peaceful demonstration) and hand out peace messages.

It is clear that anybody wanting “peace” in Turkey is declared a “terrorist”.

The Labour Party of Turkey issued a message for World Peace Day on 1st September, in which they stressed that peace can only be achieved through the struggle for equality and fraternity. In its message the Labour Party stated “In our country interventions in Syria and Libya continue with the aim of broadening the influence of the one man regime, and [our government] is dragging the country into these regressive wars which benefit capitalist monopolies and risk the lives of the people of Turkey with new threats everyday”.

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MP Baris Atay attacked after being publicly targeted by Turkish Interior Minister


The Turkish Interior Minister, who had previously protected Musa Orhan (Ipek Er’s rapist), publicly attacked Worker’s Party MP Baris Atay.

Soylu accused Baris Atay of being a rapist on social media. On the same evening (30 August) Atay was physically assaulted by 5 people and taken to hospital where he is recovering. 

Ironically, the Interior Minister recently stood up for Musa Orhan, who raped Ipek Er. Ipek Er later killed herself and Musa Orhan was freed. 

Erdogan and the AKP accuse all those that oppose or critique them of being “traitors”. 

Atay, a well known actor and politician, has been an outspoken critic of the AKP government, and it is clear that the physical attack on him is a result of the Interior Minister’s public incitement and targeting on social media.

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Turkish Health Minister lies about daily Covid-19 numbers

A number of Local Authority leaders in Turkey, including the Mayors of Ankara and Istanbul have publicly stated that the true number of Covid-19 cases and related deaths are not being disclosed.
For some time medical chambers across the country and local authorities in areas such as Diyarbakir, Antep and Adana had been stating publicly that the numbers announced by the Health Minister are wrong and that there are many more cases of Covid and deaths.
Instead of accounting for this error and responding  to these criticisms, the Health Minister has labelled as “national traitors” those exposing the government’s cover up of the number of covid cases and deaths.
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Erdoğan is warmongering in attempt to prolong presidency

The Turkish President Erdogan and his party the AKP, are meddling with their neighbours again with the aim of extending their time in government.

A few years ago Erdogan used the Assad regime as a pretext for two major military operations targeting the Kurds in Northern Syria and occupying the area. In recent days the regime has its sights on the East Mediterranean and Greece because of the natural wealth of the area.

The relationship between Turkey and Greece has come to breaking point with warships in a standoff. It is likely that NATO, particularly the USA, will prevent further escalation into a war between these two allies but we may yet hear gunshots. The Turkish Navy has said that it plans to hold live-fire exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean in the coming days, which will no doubt stoke tensions further.

Erdogan is also increasing tensions further using chauvinistic propaganda against Greece to rally the Turkish public around this issue.

Even as starvation becomes even more widespread, the economy hits rock bottom and Erdogan’s popularity falls, racist nationalist propaganda reaches new heights. The government has gone into a phase of labelling anybody who is not a nationalist as a “traitor”.

Everyday Syrians are killed on the streets and the government is encouraging racism. There is only one reason for these policies and that is to keep Erdogan in the 1100 room palace built with taxpayers and siphon off the country’s wealth.

Erdogan has used the state’s resources to make his family, friends and contacts rich, and one of the biggest supporters of his racist nationalism and war mongering has been the UK.

We call on the UK government to stop working with the Turkish government and review its relationship. The UK government should know that in supporting Erdogan and the AKP, it is emboldening a regime that is oppressing and trampling over the human rights of its people.

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TELE1 fined for airing an advert using Kurdish colours


Media outlets that are not pro-Erdogan and the AKP continue to be penalised in Turkey.

Most recently TELE1 (which has previously aired Evrensel newspaper adverts) was fined for airing an Evrensel advert which contained Kurdish colours. This blatant racism and interference in media freedom is unacceptable.

The Supreme Council for Radio and Television (RTÜK) in Turkey decided to impose the fine after TELE1 aired Evrensel newspaper’s advert because they said the advert used the phrase “the voice of those who want to live together, in peace and fraternity” and showed images of demonstrations.

RTÜK claimed that the advert “praised and encouraged terror, and showed terrorist organisations as strong or in a positive light” and decided that a penalty at the highest threshold should be imposed on the television channel.  

RTÜK’s reasoning for the penalty included the image of a little girl holding a red, yellow and green scarf.  

As SPOT we condemn this unacceptable interference in media freedom and stand in solidarity with progressive media outlets in Turkey.

 

 

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Rapist Musa Orhan released by Turkish State


Military Seargent Musa Orhan raped 18 year old Ipek Er in the Batman in Eastern Turkey. Ipek Er committed suicide as a result. Musa Orhan, who is responsible for the death of this young woman, is being protected by the Turkish state because he served in the military and comes from a nationalist racist family.

He was released from prison after only 1 week. There has been outcry across the country with women’s organisations, campaign groups and celebrities calling out the Turkish state’s systematic protection of perpetrators of violence against women, and calls for the imprisonment of Musa Orhan have been growing. The Turkish authorities have been tightly policing dissent, exemplified in the abrupt removal of Melek Mosso (a singer) from the stage during a concert at which she called for the Istanbul Convention to be honoured and said it saved women’s lives.

Everyday there are more and more reports of women being murdered and raped across Turkey. This is fueled by the Turkish state’s open support and protection for perpertrators of violence against women.

The criminalisation of democratic protest/opposition and the protection of perpetrators of violence against women and girls in Turkey must be stopped.

Join us to strengthen solidarity in the UK with progressive forces and women’s groups in Turkey.

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‪Ebru Timtik, lawyer, dies after 238 days on hunger strike


Ebru Timtik, who was on indefinite hunger strike demanding a fair trial, has died in Bakırköy Dr. Sadi Konuk Hospital after 238 days.

Timtik’s only demand was a right to fair trial and she had called on the Minister for Justice to intervene, but despite numerous warnings the government stood idly by – choosing instead to watch as she slowly died. During her 238 day hunger strike many human rights organisations and campaign groups called for the government to take steps to prevent her death. 

Even though Timtik had not committed any crime, she didn’t refuse to be tried. All she asked was for a fair trial and this was denied to her even as she lost her life. 

The Turkish government has set aside the rule of law and the right to fair trial. Britain and other countries supporting the Turkish government must review their relationships in light of the worsening human rights record of Turkey. Please support us to bring an end to this injustice.

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Turkish Bar Associations fight back

The Turkish Bar Associations stand firm against attacks on their independence

Last week the main agenda across Turkey was the Government’s plan to change the way that the Turkish Bar Associations are organised and their electoral system. The Bar Association’s believe that the legal changes proposed would make the Bar Associations undemocratic and would result in them losing their independence from the government.

The Bar Associations, outraged about the proposed legal changes, organised a series of protests and events to protest the planned changes. The events culminated in a “Defense March” in which the presidents of the most progressive local bar associations, representing a large majority of lawyers in Turkey, marched to the capital Ankara.

When the Bar Association presidents arrived in Ankara to voice their demands and raise awareness of their protest, they were prevented from entering the Capital and were not allowed to continue their march. They were arbitrarily kept waiting at the border of Ankara for almost 27 hours, and were effectively detained without access to basic facilities during this time in contravention of the law.

Despite this the presidents of the Bar Association made clear that preventing their protest is illegal and were determined to enter the Capital. The prevention of this demonstration by the Bar Association presidents led to almost all other Bar Association presidents to participate in the struggle and increased public awareness and support. As a result, the Bar Association protests became a symbol against the arbitrary use of power by the Government.

Following public outcry, after 27 hours, the Government were forced to allow the Bar Association Presidents into Ankara and continue their demonstration.

The Bar Associations are considered one of the biggest obstacles to the establishment of a one-man regime and the government had hoped that it could force the lawyers into submission. This is because the Bar Associations are rarely aligned with Erdogan’s regime, and he wishes to change this so that the Bar Associations are under his control. That these attacks on lawyers in Turkey have resulted in such organised resistance has shown that the government’s tactics have backfired.

The measures taken to stop the Bar Associations protest shows that even lawyers are faced with illegal oppression by the government when exercising their democratic right to protest. The experience of the Bar Association’s Defence March shows that even the most basic democratic principles, such as the right to freedom of expression and protest are are not protected in Turkey.

On the other hand, the success of the Bar Association protest in terms of both accessing Ankara and completing their march, has been a significant boost of morale for democratic organisations. However, Erdogan and the Government is using all means at their disposal, including arbitrary use of power and actions in breach of the law to suppress the freedom of the Turkish Bar Association. This struggle will no doubt escalate in the coming months.

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SPOT Conference 2020 – What’s the latest?

The Turkish state’s attacks on human rights, workers rights and democracy is
relentless, and President Erdogan’s war politics is fuelling further tension and
instability, not just in Turkey but across the region. It is in this context that we have
pulled our sleeves up and are finalising preparations for SPOT’s 4 th Annual
Conference, which will take place on 28 th March at the NEU, Hamilton House.
SPOT’s campaigns and activities have played a crucial role in raising awareness and
actively supporting progressive groups and unions in Turkey fighting for democracy.
As the conference approaches, we spoke with Louise Regan, Chair of SPOT who
explains what to expect and why you should be there with us.
SPOT is having its 4th conference on 28 march. What issues will you be
focusing on this year?
The SPOT conferences have been a huge success for us not only in building
solidarity but also in raising awareness and understanding about the situation in
Turkey.
This year we will be particularly focussing in women and the increasing oppression
that they are facing including the ways that they are fighting back against this.
We will be hearing from striking women workers at the SF Trade Leather factory in
Turkey and talking about further action that we can take here to support them.
We also have members from Egitim Sen the education union attending the
conference and we will be hearing about the attacks on trade unionists and workers
in the education sector who are speaking out against the oppressive government
and the restrictions that they have imposed.
Finally, we will be hearing from journalists who have faced unprecedented
oppression at the hands of Erdogan. Turkey has the highest number of imprisoned
journalists in the world and the regime continues to try to silence all those who speak
out against them. Turkey is one of the worst countries globally to be a worker and therefore it is even
more essential that we as trade unionists speak out about the situation.
Do you think fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey have deteriorated
further in Turkey?
The situation in Turkey for workers, women, trade unionists and many others
continues to deteriorate. In the ITUC global rights index Turkey was in the top ten of the worlds worst
countries for workers. The attempts to silence anyone who speaks out against what is happening
continues. Trade union and progressive media outlets have their offices closed, workers
sacked or imprisoned and resources and equipment destroyed or confiscated.

Education is controlled by the government with no ability for free speech or
democratic discussion. These are all clear attempts to shut down dissent and to breed fear amongst people
about speaking out.

Do you think that the British population and media are sufficiently informed of
the developments in Turkey?
There is not enough knowledge amongst the population here in the UK about the
situation in Turkey however the trade union movement here is doing much work in
this area and I think that this is having a positive impact. The unions here have a
significant role to play in pressurising our government and in raising awareness
nationally and internationally about the ongoing injustices and attacks on workers.

Why do you think the British government is supportive of Turkey’s repressive
regime?
Unfortunately, we have re-elected a Tory government who now have a bigger
majority and who will use this to continue to attack workers here and globally.
The UK is one of the largest arms suppliers to Turkey and although these sales were
partially suspended in October this was only for weapons that may be used in Syria.
Turkey hosts a greater number of refugees than any country in the world and our
government believes that it plays a crucial role in preventing irregular migration into
the EU.
Finally. there is clearly a view that post Brexit there will be an opportunity to develop
a strong trade deal with Turkey. Given the attacks on workers and the oppressive
regime in Turkey this is something which we must oppose.
Successive governments in the UK have stood with the oppressors not the
oppressed. Our current government continues this.

What are your aims for the conference this year?
It is essential that we continue to raise awareness about the current situation in
Turkey and build the solidarity movement here in the UK but also where possible
globally. Personally, I am really concerned about the attacks and violations against women
and I think that this is an area we should really focus on over the coming year.

What are your expectations of delegates attending the conference?
I want the delegates to listen to the personal testimonies that we will hear from our
speakers, to ask questions and develop their knowledge and understanding.

Most importantly I want them to go away from the conference and spread our
message to others. By doing this we can continue to build the solidarity movement
here.

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END TURKEY’S ATTACKS ON DEMOCRACY AND MILITARY AGGRESSION NOW

END TURKEY’S ATTACKS ON DEMOCRACY AND MILITARY AGGRESSION NOW    

As the general election approaches voters are looking to our Parliament to recognise the impact that our foreign policy is having on the safety of innocent civilians not just in the UK but all over the world. Democracy is under attack in Turkey, with trade unions and civil society facing arbitrary criminalisation and state violence. Turkey’s aggressive war politics, not least its attacks on elected Kurdish opposition politicians and military aggression in Kurdish regions (inside and outside its borders) threatens all prospects for peace inside Turkey, across the Middle East and Europe.

At the time of writing the NATO summit is coming to an end with President Erdogan pushing for NATO to declare the Kurdish YPG and PYD as terrorists – if NATO succumbs this will lead to the further criminalisation and oppression of all forms of democratic opposition both within and along Turkey’s borders.

The UK and its NATO allies have armed and supported Erdogan’s oppressive regime, and the EU has allowed the regime’s abuses of human rights, imprisonment of journalists and suppression of freedom of speech to continue without challenge in negotiations over migrations and Syrian refugees. Moreover, we saw recently that Turkey was able to circumvent a US export ban on killer drones with the help of missiles components developed in the UK, and that this has been crucial in helping Turkey become the second biggest user of armed drones in the world[1]. Sales of defence technology and arms to Turkey is emboldening Turkey’s anti-democratic regime, directly contributing to the deaths of innocent civilians in the region and increasing Turkey’s economic reliance on aggressive war politics as the arms industry is now its fastest growing sector.

As Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT), we recognise the significant influencing power the UK has over countries such as Turkey.

And we call on our prospective parliamentary candidates to:  

  • Work with SPOT and our partners to support democracy in Turkey;
  • Call for an immediate end to the aggression of Turkish forces in Syria and for the release of all opposition politicians who have been arbitrarily detained, starting with the HDP’s ex-leader Selahattin Demirtas;
  • Call for the withdrawal of all UK military/armed forces from Syria and region;
  • Call for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria and the region;
  • Call for an end to sales of defence technology and arms to the Turkish State and Turkish arms industry;
  • Ensure that any future trade agreement with Turkey includes robust protections for human and workers’ rights, democracy and the rule of law;
  • Prioritise the need for reinstating human rights, democracy and the rule of law in diplomatic relations with the government of Turkey.

As SPOT we want to work with our elected politicians and would like to set up an APPG for democracy in Turkey, which monitors the state of democracy and human rights in Turkey and works through parliament to raise awareness and develop appropriate policy responses.

Ahead of the general election, we hope that our parliamentary candidates will share with us and the public their commitment to human rights, not just at home but also abroad.

Solidarity with the People of Turkey

5 December 2019

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/nov/27/revealed-uk-technology-turkey-rise-global-drone-power)

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