Police Violence against Workers Seeking Their Rights

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The Human Rights Foundation Turkey holds the government responsible for the latest violence excesses against striking workers and union members. The foundation described the recent incidents as a "standstill of the law".


The Human Rights Foundation Turkey (TİHV) condemned the police violence imposed to workers in Istanbul for the last 10 days as "uncontrolled violence". Clashes with the police arose when workers form TEKEL (former monopoly for alcohol and tobacco products, still controls taxing and distribution of alcohol and tobacco products), TCDD (Turkish Railway Authorities), Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality fire brigade and members of the Transportation-Business Union sought their rights by going on strike and organizing protest actions.

TİHV declared that the recent occurrences of police violence clamp the whole country and that the spiral of violence is regenerating itself as a "direct response". "This is nothing else but a standstill of the law via legal means", the foundation pointed out.

7 deaths and 734 arrests in 2009

TİHV had a closer look at 11 events and protest actions that were orgainzed in 2009, such as the traditional Iranian new year ceremony Newros, 1 May, 8 March, 15 February, 4 April, 1 September, the IMF meeting, conditions of the prison island Imralı or the Democratic Society Party (DTP) closure. The foundation revealed that in the course of police intervention 7 people died, 291 were injured, 2,976 people were taken into custody and 734 were detained.

"The workers' freedom of expression and of association and the right to meetings and demonstrations as an inseparable part of this were truly flouted", TİHV criticized.

The human rights organization emphasized that the political power is to be held responsible for trying to silence the opposition and for trapping the country in an anti-democratic corner via the police forces. TİHV highlighted that with the amendments made in 2005 regarding the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), the Criminal Procedural Code (CMK), in 2006 in the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) and in 2007 regarding the Police Duty and Authority Law (PVSK) "the public security was left completely to the assessment of the police forces and to their threat perception created with their own experiences".

10 days of violence

17 December 2009: TEKEL workers gather in Ankara to protest against the privatization of several companies and against contracts of workers from certain companies. The demonstrators also walked past the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters. The police intervened with tear gas and water cannon. 29 people were arrested because of "provocation" of the Ankara Governor.

16 December 2009: The police intervened with tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators in Istanbul. They protested against the agenda of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality to lay off workers, among them contracted fire fighters as members of the Turkey Municipality Work Syndicate.

16 December 2009: TCDD workers demonstrated at Istanbul's Haydarpaşa Station for 16 of their colleagues to be returned to work after they were suspended because of participating in a strike. The police stepped in and took 5 union members into custody. After this protest action, the TCDD administration suspended another 30 workers from duty.

10 December 2009: As a result of the raid on the Transportation-Business Union (belonging to the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) ) and homes of union members, DİSK Association Office President Ali Riza Küçükosmanoğlu and a further 9 workers were arrested on the basis of "impeding the liberty to work of one and more than one person". (EÖ/VK)


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