This year’s Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT) conference planned for 28 March in London was a victim of the pandemic lock-down, Since then attacks on democracy have been stepped up with continuing crackdowns on civil society, independent media and political opposition, especially members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). President Erdogan often accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK, but the party says it is being targeted because of its strong opposition to the president. Dozens of officials and elected HDP MPs were arrested during a crackdown after a failed 2016 coup bid and writing in the Morning Star on 24 June Steve Sweeney reported that 51 of the 65 municipalities won by the HDP at the local elections in March 2019 had been taken over by government appointees and 22 of the party’s mayors imprisoned.
Meanwhile the economy continues to slip deeper into crisis worsened by the global Covid-19 pandemic. So the online conference on Sunday 21 June was of particular significance drawing together MPs, trade unionists and campaigners.
The following report appeared in the Morning Star on 23 June.
“MPs, trade unionists and campaigners call for international solidarity as Turkey continues attacks on opposition and workers
POLITICIANS, trade unionists and campaigners called for international support in the fight for democracy during Solidarity with the People of Turkey online meeting on Sunday.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Hisyar Ozsoy warned that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to establish authoritarian rule but that, though the opposition party has faced attacks, “there is hope.” Mr Ozsoy vowed to keep up the fight, telling participants: “Erdogan is losing more and more ground. He will be more aggressive and they will try their best to beat the opposition.”
Ayhan Aydogan of Turkey’s Labour Party warned that it had not been easy for the working class and trade unions even before the pandemic. He also highlighted how three million child workers still participate in Turkey’s workforce.
Baroness Christine Blower branded Britain’s silence “shameful,” while Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German slammed Turkey’s attacks on Kurdish regions in neighbouring states.
National Education Union national officer Louise Regan called on trade unionists to continue speaking up on such issues and to build links across the globe to fight back against attacks on workers.
Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) official Mustafa Kuleli called for an end to mourning for Turkey and for a focus on what can be done. He said independent media was still alive in the country even if democracy was broken, and called on people in Britain to support these outlets.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sent a solidarity message to “all those campaigning for justice and democracy in Turkey.”
And Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith called for an end to arms sales to regimes such as Turkey.
Speakers concluded the meeting by voicing optimism for change and the need for international solidarity.”
SPOT web site is at: http://spotturkey.co.uk/