Tag Archives: persecution of union activists

Free Seher Tümer!

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.

Send a letter of protest on line and for more information contact communications@world-psi.org.


We gratefully acknowledge receipt of news of this campaign from LabourStart.

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, trade unions

Stop Nespressure in Russia!

Stop Nespressure in Russia! Rights and Recognition for Nestlé Waters Workers and their Union!

In November 2009, workers at Nestlé Waters Direct in Domodedovo, near Moscow, joined together to do something about eroding real wages and deteriorating working conditions. They formed a legal union — and management responding by harassment, discriminatory work assignments, cutting drivers’ wages by half and sacking the union vice-chair, who was formally accused of damaging the company by doing his job too well! The workers are determined to defend their union and win their rights — you can support them by using this form to send a message to management of Nestlé, the world’s largest food company.

To learn more about Nestlé’s violations of worker rights, see the IUF’s Nespressure website.


We gratefully acknowledge receipt of news of this campaign from LabourStart.

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, trade unions

Persecution of Leftist Activists in Omsk

We are publishing the following translation of an article that recently appeared on the website of the Institute for Collection Action and was distributed to various activist listservs. We are doing so only out of solidarity with our comrades in Omsk. Although we believe what they tell us, we are aware that the lack of details in this article might leave a reader in the outside world somewhat befuddled. We apologize for the vagueness of the article and promise that we will update this posting as soon as more details become available. Unfortunately, in recent days and weeks, another wave of harassment of Russian leftists, oppositionists, and human rights activists  seems to have begun. With the blows coming fast and furious, not all activists have the means or the time to prepare detailed accounts of the state’s actions against them.


Authorities in Omsk have begun a campaign of persecution and coercion directed against members of the Siberian Confederation of Labor (SKT). The SKT, an interregional trade union organization, was founded in 1995 by the Confederation of Anarch0-Syndicalists.  The SKT has a large number of supporters and is involved in defending their labor and social rights. The SKT also has a youth organization, the Union of Autonomous Youth (SAM), and supports a committee for the defense of former orphanage students. The SKT’s active political stance has attracted the attention of law enforcement agencies, who have begun persecuting SKT activists. In this sense, they now practically function as a political police.

The trouble began on August 31, when SKT activists organized a demonstration against the violation of civil rights and liberties on the part of law enforcement officers. The immediate cause for the demonstration was the recent murder of a man by two police officers. A large number of young people gathered for the event and the actions of the activists were widely publicized in the mass media. The authorities tested methods for disrupting the demonstration by using plainclothes provocateurs (who were, naturally, police officers) and the Young Guard of United Russia, who tried to interfere with the demonstration. After this episode, the authorities began in earnest to persecute SKT activists for their convictions.

Subseqently [in October] another policeman committed a double homicide [and then killed himself]. A demonstration was organized by the Yabloko Party youth organization in which SKT activists took part. Despite the fact that the demonstration had official permission, it was attacked by approximately one hundred plainclothes police officers, who used Russian flags as weapons. The site of the demonstration was entirely cordoned off with buses [parked there by police]. Journalists were on hand, however, and Novaya Gazeta published an article about the demonstration. This greatly angered the police and local authorities.

In order to have an official excuse to summon SKT members and demonstration participants for questioning, the police have begun fabricating a case against an activist from another organization, the Left Front, which, in the opinion of law enforcement officials, is influenced by the SKT. The reason a criminal case has been opened against him is that the police allegedly found Nazi leaflets in his possession. In reality, SKT members themselves have always publicly taken a consistently internationalist and antifascist stance.

Nevertheless, at a subsequent demonstration police provocateurs handed out a leaflet in which Elena and Vasily Starostin, two founders of the SKT, were accused of ties with the Nazi movement. In addition, the authors of the text alleged that the SKT manipulates former orphanage students by promising to solve their problems. In reality, the SKT has initiated more than 120 successful lawsuits and approximately fifty young people have been granted housing as a result of these court rulings.

After this incident, the police began interrogating activists whom they had been able to identify during demonstrations. The Starostins were among those summoned. They were told by their interrogators that they were a bad influence on young people and they should cease their activities. The authorities have begun to pressure Elena Starostin’s employer by conducting various inspections: the goal is to coerce him to fire her.

The authorities have also begun to pressure young people who participate in SKT actions through the university. They are summoned to the rector’s office for discussions of their “extremist” activity and they are threatened with expulsion. As if that were not enough, the police have begun summoning their parents in order to pressure them to stop the activities of their children. In one case, an activist’s mother has been threatened with being fired from her job, and other parents can expect the same fate.

During their interrogation, police announced outright to the Starostins that the young people who go to protests and participate in the SKT will be unable to find employment in the city. In addition, police have begun to hint that they are physically threatened, saying things like “Aren’t you afraid that skinheads will break your arms and legs?” 

It is clear that the primary purpose of the actions of the police is to intimidate activists and make it impossible for them to organize new protests. Police officials do not want this story to go public beyond Omsk, and so SKT activists request that this information be distributed as widely as possible.

Leave a comment

Filed under leftist movements, political repression, trade unions

Iran: Save the Life of Farzad Kamangar


Act NOW!

Iran: Save the life of Farzad Kamangar

Please join with the thousands of trade unionists and human rights defenders around the world who are mobilising in defence of Farzad Kamangar, an Iranian Kurdish teacher and trade unionist who is at risk of execution. 

Education International received information from reliable sources that on 26 November Kamangar was taken from his cell 121 in ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison in preparation for execution by hanging. However, the latest information is that he is still alive and was able to meet with his lawyer on 27 November for the first time in over two months. His situation remains precarious nonetheless.

Kamangar, aged 33, was sentenced to death by the Iranian Revolutionary Court on 25 February 2008 after a trial which took place in secret, lasted only minutes, and failed to meet Iranian and international standards of fairness. His lawyer, Kahlil Bahramian, said: “Nothing in Kamangar’s judicial files and records demonstrates any links to the charges brought against him.” Indeed, Kamangar was initially cleared of all charges during the investigation process.

Education International, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Transport Workers Federation, Amnesty International and LabourStart are appealing to the Iranian authorities to commute the death sentence and ensure his case is reviewed fairly.


To sign a letter calling on Iranian President Ahmadinejad to commute Farzad’s death sentence and conduct a fair review of his case, follow the link at the top of the post.


Leave a comment

Filed under international affairs, political repression, trade unions