Turkish court sentences trade unionist Seher Tümer to seven years in prison
International solidarity needed to press for expedited appeal
Lawyers have filed an appeal seeking to overturn the conviction of trade union activist Seher Tümer. Late in the day of 18 March, the Ankara High Criminal Court in Turkey declared Tümer guilty of belonging to an illegal Kurdish organization, and “making propaganda” through participation in public demonstrations, and sentenced her to more than seven years in prison. Tümer has already spent close to one year in prison. Her lawyers maintain there is no evidence to back these charges.
The global union federation Public Services International (PSI) contends that Tümer has been targeted for her activities in the labour and women’s movements in Turkey. Tümer is branch secretary of Saglik ve Sosyal Hizmet Emekçileri Sendikasi (SES),the trade union representing public employees in health and social services.
“We are deeply concerned by what appears to be a travesty of justice in Tümer’s case, and numerous recent cases like it,” says PSI general secretary Peter Waldorff.
“We are seeing a pattern of political persecution of trade union activists in Turkey. We believe national ‘security’ laws are being used as a pretext to silence union leaders. This abuse of human rights must stop.”
Carola Fischbach-Pyttel, general secretary of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) adds, “Our affiliate members in Turkey have asked us to call on trade unionists world-wide to continue to raise their voices on Tümer’s behalf.
“Please write letters to Turkey’s prime minister, president, and justice minister demanding open examination of Tümer’s case record in an expedited appeal process.”
Because of the backlog in cases, it could take longer than a year for Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals to consider Tümer’s appeal. Tümer’s lawyers maintain that her house was searched by police when she was not at home, in contravention of the Turkish criminal code, and charges should be dismissed on this basis alone. Texts printed from her computer were used as evidence in court, despite arguments for consideration of freedom of expression. Further, it was noted in court that demonstrations that Tümer participated in were peaceful and related to trade union and women’s rights. PSI and Turkish trade unions gathered more than 8000 signatures in a petition demanding justice for Tümer that was presented to authorities earlier this month.
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We gratefully acknowledge receipt of news of this campaign from LabourStart.