Court releases 6 out of 9 trade union leaders. Our battle and support continue for trade union rights in Turkey

Photo by KESK
(5 October 2012) Amid massive support from trade union members, the first trial was held of the women of KESK and KESK affiliated unions like EPSU members Tum-Bel-Sen (All Municipality Workers Trade Union) and SES (Health and Social Services Workers Union), 4 October 2012 in Ankara.

Hundreds of workers came from across Turkey to express their solidarity. They were joined by known media figures from music, arts and theatre and film as well as an international delegation including representatives of ITUC and ETUC. EPSU was represented by its Deputy General Secretary. He expressed the solidarity of affiliated unions for the women on trial, for the trade unionists imprisoned 25 June and for the ongoing struggle. He also spoke at a press conference on 3 October.

We welcome that 6 of our colleagues have been released and that the Court found there was no justification in their continued detention. The charges of anti-terrorism are unfounded. Our colleagues were engaged in lawful and peaceful trade union work. It is sad though that Guler Elveren, Bedriye Yorgun and Guldane Erdogan of EPSU and PSI affiliates Tüm Bel Sen and SES remain in prison. We will continue to assist our colleagues and fight for their release” said Jan Willem Goudriaan, EPSU’s Deputy General Secretary.

KESK colleagues reported:
“After a demonstration in front of the court house, the hearing started at 14:00 and finished at about 20:00. During the 6 hours long trial, friends of Egitim Sen (Education and Science Workers Union) and KESK have stayed in the courtroom and followed the hearing steadily. In this hearing, because trade unions’ lawyers requested so, only the imprisonned 9 women’s situation was discussed. (...) The outcome of this hearing was like it is widely guessed. The court released 6 of the 9 women and decided to keep the detention for the other 3 women. Below is the list of detained and released:

- Canan Calagan - KESK (Confederation of public Employees’s trade unions) Women’s Secretary - released
- Hatice Beydilli - Egitim Sen (Education and Science Workers Union) Ankara Branch (no.1) Member –released
- Evrim Ozdemir Ograş - Egitim Sen Ankara Branch (no.1) member–released
- Belkis Yurtseven - SES (Health and Social Services Workers Union) Ankara Branch Member – released
- Hulya Mendillioglu - SES Ankara Branch Member –released
- Nursat Yesil - SES Ankara Branch Member –released Guler Elveren - Tüm Bel Sen (All Manucipality Workers Trade Union) Women’s Secretary – ongoing imprisonment
- Bedriye Yorgun - SES Women’s Secretary and SES Former President – ongoing imprisonment
- Guldane Erdogan - Egitim Sen Ankara Branch (no.2) Women’s Secretary – ongoing imprisonment.

KESK trade unions’ members waiting for hours outside the courthouse were happy to hear that 6 women were released but also worried for the other 3 colleagues. During the demonstation before the hearing and during the trial, the international delegation have given support to the hundreds of people waiting outside the court house and made them feel their strong solidarity. Many people here think that the existence of the international delegation had a very important role in the release of the 6 detained women. The next hearing of this court case is in December.
For the pres conference on October 3rd

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