Monday, March 22, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Turkish court sentences trade unionist Seher Tümer to seven years in prison

19 March 2010

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

Latest update in English (pdf)

Latest update in Turkish (pdf)

9 March 2010
Turkey: Continued detention of Ms Seher Tümer
International solidarity action needed

Send a protest letter on-line

Seher Tümer appeared in court in Ankara, Turkey on 9 March. A total of
8000 signatures - 3000 of trade unionists from around the world and 5000
from Turkey - had been collected at that point and presented to the
Ministry of Justice on 8th March, petitioning for her immediate release.
Nearly five hundred people had gathered both inside and outside the
courtroom to express their solidarity. Her trial has now been postponed
until 18 March. Ms Tümer's lawyers are optimistic that she may be released
at that time. Meanwhile, keep sending letters and signing the petition.
Tümer continues to need international support in her bid for freedom.

People gathered outside the courtroom before the trial on 9 March
to express their solidarity with Seher Tümer

26 February 2010

Union activist Seher Tümer, Branch Secretary of PSI affiliate SES (the
trade union of public employees in health and social services), will spend
International Women's Day 2010 in prison.

But international solidarity action could open the door to freedom for her.

Ms Tümer has now been detained in an F-type prison for almost a year, with
no clear charges being brought against her. PSI is convinced that her
arrest is linked to her activities in the labour and women's movements in
that country, including participating in International Women's Day
activities last year. Tümer, who is Kurdish, was arrested and imprisoned
in April 2009. Her case mirrors that of fellow union leader Meryem
Özsögüt, who faced similar charges of belonging to a terrorist
organisation. (Özsöğüt was released after eight months in prison
following a major international protest campaign led by PSI.)

PSI has been closely following this case. Ms Tümer's next court appearance
is planned for
9 March, PSI and EPSU have sent a joint letter of protest to the Turkish
Prime Minister demanding that all charges be dropped and that she be
immediately released.

PSI urgently calls on trade unions and concerned organisations to write
similar letters of protest. Join the Labourstart Campaign and send a
letter of protest now. For more information please contact

Ms Tümer has the support of fellow trade unionists.
Photo taken during the recent nationwide demonstrations on
February 21 in Turkey - courtesy of SES

Related Files
Download the model protest letter (Word Document)
View PSI/EPSU Joint letter of protest (PDF File)
Turkish court sentences trade unionist Seher Tümer to seven years in
prison (PDF File)
Türkiye'de mahkeme, sendikacı Seher Tümer'i 7 yıl hapse mahkum
etti (in Turkish) (PDF File)

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