LEADING trade unionists have demanded that Theresa May stop selling arms to Turkey, accusing her of propping up one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.
The call was made at an emergency press conference on Wednesday night, organised by Solidarity with the People of Turkey (Spot), after a new decree issued under the state of emergency last week led to a further 300 academics being removed from their posts.
Shocking statistics reveal the scale of repression in Turkey, where over 200,000 public-sector workers have been sacked, 5,000 academics ousted from their jobs and nearly 200,000 people arrested.
There are also 151 journalists currently in jail, a third of the world’s total.
“Democracy is on a knife edge in Turkey,” said Spot spokesman Cagdas Canbolat, adding that “people feel the need to hide their opinions and beliefs.”
He warned that if radical changes to the Turkish constitution are approved in a referendum in April, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will gain “the power to appoint ministers himself, dismiss the parliament and determine the judiciary.”
Mr Canbolat also accused the Prime Minister of bolstering Mr Erdogan’s authoritarian rule.
He said: “May is making deals to sell jet aircraft to one of the world’s most repressive regimes, effectively condoning the undemocratic pressure and brutal attacks on academics and other groups in Turkey.”
Day-Mer Turkish and Kursish community centre secretary Oktay Sahbaz stressed: “It is important to show public-sector workers in Turkey that they are not alone.
“These are crucial times in the country and Turkish people need support and solidarity from our brothers and sisters.”
NUT vice-president Louise Regan highlighted the need to raise awareness of the situation, urging the meeting to “go away and tell people what is happening.”
TUC international secretary Owen Tudor pledged support, saying the “attacks on democracy and freedom of speech” in the country were a “testament to the rise of those calling for a ‘New Turkey’.”
He warned there was “a global struggle against anti-democratic forces attempting to split the working class.”
RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley slammed Ms May for her “dictators tour” following her recent meetings with US President Donald Trump, Mr Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He demanded that the British government stop selling arms to brutal regimes, including Turkey’s, which will use the weapons to oppress their own people.
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