69 members of Turkish trade union KESK will face charges of terrorism next week - chargers which appear to be an attempt to bring the trade union to its knees.
This appears to be the height of an ‘epidemic’ in the spread of harassment of trade union activities in Turkey and other places in the world. The case against KESK seems to demonstrate a cencerted effort to bring trade unions to their knees, sending a message you run the risk of criminal prosecution for engaging in a trade union activities.
The case has now dragged on for years, with the evidence being used against these trade unionists appearing to be highly questionable. It is mainly made up of video footage of the individuals attending demonstrations, or press conferences; participating in strikes; printouts of anonymous reports; illegally tapped phone calls that merely concern trade union-related issues.
No members of the 69 have ever been involved in violent behaviour, and anyone with even a little legal knowledge can see the evidence appears to be lacking.
Organisations such as the ITUC, ETUC, EI, EPSU and other international labour movements are incredibly concerned with the unfolding situation in Turkey and fear the 69 will be found guilty and jailed with the tag and label of terrorist round their necks.
This case highlights the dangers of the current world economy, something not as immediate as pay freezes, unemployment, rising food and energy prices, but something longlasting and incredible threating to the future ideals of democracy – the eroding of rights to protest and criticise those in power.
As Tony Burke wrote on Left Foot Forward earlier this week, in Mexico there are fierce pitched battles to save the rights of trade unions, and in Spain and Greece chaos and rubber bullets rain down upon them. We must be aware of and reject any notion, policy or suggestion that it is trade unions that are holding back the economy, that disbanding them or degrading them will right the ship; it will only leave a bleak and less democratic future.
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