TUC: We are in solidarity with the Kurdish people

The top labour movement in the UK, TUC, has decided on active solidarity with the Kurdish people and stated that Öcalan’s freedom is imperative for a restart of the peace process.

The top labour organisation in the UK, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) decided on solidarity with the Kurdish people in their annual conference and launched an active solidarity effort. TUC has 6 million members in 52 unions in different fields. Founded in 1868, TUC is the most effective organisation in the UK in social, political and labour areas.

In the annual week-long TUC congress held in Brighton, UK last week, the proposition by Unite the Union, GMB, NASUWT and NUT was accepted and the decision for active solidarity with union movements in Turkey and the Kurdish people passed as a conference decree. The proposition accepted in the conference said the attacks on opposition groups in Turkey, mainly the Kurdish people, was concerning and the attacks must stop at once. The proposition also mentioned the situation of the Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan and called for a reinstation of the peace process ended by the Turkish state unilaterally and for the freedom of Öcalan in order for the process to succeed.

TUC had organised effective campaigns for Nelson Mandela following their decision in the 1971 congress. The marches and rallies along with efforts towards the South African government had played an active role in Mandela achieving freedom.

Tommy Murphy from Unite the Union who spoke in favor of the proposition in the annual TUC conference in Brighton spoke to our agency and said this silence against Erdoğan’s dictatorship was unacceptable and that this disgrace must stop at once.

Murphy said: “The world’s silence in the face of Erdoğan’s dictatorship as part of the dirty negotiations to keep Syrian refugees in Turkey and stopping them from disrupting Europe is an utter disgrace. This shameful silence must end at once.”

The proposition titled “Urgent proposition” and “Solidarity with the Kurdish People” presented in the annual TUC conference included the following:

“The attacks against unionists, academics and teachers following the emergency law instated after the failed coup attempt have deeply concerned our congress. Our congress sees the removal of 11,285 teachers from their duties as a new wave of oppression and intimidation against the Kurdish people. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who failed in the June 2015 general elections has launched a plan for intimidation and oppression against all groups who oppose him, has had opposition newspapers closed and human rights acitivists arrested. It is absolutely unacceptable that a country en route to EU membership uses such practices.”

The proposition states: “Considering the dangerous and concerning process that is developing, our congress demands the following articles be implemented and works actively on their implementation:”

The demands are as follows:

- A call for the return of the rights for those removed from duty following the failed coup attempt, and the Turkish state to stay loyal to international rights of workers, freedom of thought, syndical rights and freedom of press.

- An increase of solidarity efforts with the Kurdish people and progressive opposition union movements in Turkey, and offering material and practical support for them.

- Carrying out efforts with the UK and the Turkish governments and implementing active efforts expressing the concerns of our congress, demanding an end to attacks against the Kurdish people, the civilian society and unions, demanding that the Turkish government honors their international liabilities and stops their illegal activities.

- Having the EU, international union federations and international institutions exert pressure on the Turkish government and making them change their approach.

- A call for the reinstation of the peace process ended unilaterally by the Turkish government in June 2015, and the freedom of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan in order for this process to succeed.

The campaign for the freedom of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan, led by one of the largest unions in Britain, Unite, and the GMB, had launched in the British Parliament in April 25. Unite the Union (“Unite” for short) is the largest workers’ organisation in the England and Wales with 1,5 million registered members. With 650,000 members from dozens of work areas, the third largest labour organisation in the UK, GMB (Britain’s General Union) had carried out efforts for the democratic solution to the Kurdish issue in the past. The Scotland representative from Unison union attended the panel discussion and expressed their support for the campaign. Unison is the second largest union in Britain with 1,3 million members.