Johnson told to demand end to Ankara’s state of emergency
BRITISH trade unionists called for government action against human rights abuses in Turkey yesterday as a major campaign was launched to free a journalist jailed for meeting Kurdish agricultural workers.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis wrote to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to express “deep concern over the continued violation of human and workers rights in Turkey.”
He urged Mr Johnson to demand an end to the state of emergency that has been in place since last year’s failed coup attempt against the increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr Prentis called on the Foreign Secretary to press for the reinstatement of 100,000 public-sector workers who have been sacked on trumped-up terrorism charges and for the release of workers and human rights defenders who have been jailed without trial.
Concerns were also raised about government attacks on press freedom in Turkey, which has shut down at least 149 media outlets and hosts a third of all the world’s jailed journalists.
Meanwhile, the Unite union offered support for the Freedom for Yusuf Karatas campaign, initiated by Solidarity with the People of Turkey (Spot) yesterday.
Mr Karatas is a journalist on the Evrensel newspaper who was arrested last week in the south-eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir.
He is charged with terror offences over his attendance at a meeting of largely Kurdish agricultural workers organised by the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) in 2013.
The DTK was a legitimate organisation in Turkey and in the past its meetings have been attended by government officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party.
Spot issued a statement demanding the immediate release of Mr Karatas, arguing that his arrest was politically motivated and a further attempt to clamp down on democracy and freedom of speech in Turkey.
Spot spokeswoman Asli Gul said: “Solidarity with those standing for freedom and democracy in Turkey is so important.
“We need to put pressure on the Foreign Secretary and British government, who have good relations with Turkey.
“We demand the immediate release of Yusuf. He and many others are in prison and have not committed any crimes. They have been jailed for simply being journalists and reporting the news.”
The Foreign Office had not responded to the Morning Star’s request for comment at the time of going to press.