TUC urges Turkey to release Öcalan and all political prisoners

The top labour movement in the UK, TUC, called for the Turkish government to immediately release Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan and all other political prisoners being held in Turkey.

The British Trades Union Congress (TUC), representing over 6 million workers, sent a letter to Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey for London, Abdurrahman Bilgiç regarding the peace process and workers’ right in Turkey.

The letter signed by TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak said the following;

“The British Trades Union Congress has passed motions at its last two annual conferences that have expressed their deepest concern at the current human and workers’ rights situation in Turkey.

Those motions called for an immediate end to the unjustified repression and infringements of the most basic democratic norms and fundamental human rights, including the need to guarantee workers’ rights and stop the repression of trade unions in Turkey.

We have also expressly called for the Turkish government to halt its attacks on the Kurdish population and to return to the peace process with the PKK to search for a peaceful and inclusive solution to the Kurdish issue.

Central to the Kurdish Question and the peace process is the position of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdish political movement. He has been calling, for many years, for a peaceful and democratic solution within the existing borders of Turkey and has said that the time for violence is over. He will be entering his 20th year in prison and will be 70 in the next year.

Therefore, in line with the motions passed at our last two conferences in 2016 and 2017, and on this anniversary of his illegal abduction on 15 February 1999, we hereby formally call for the Turkish government to immediately release Mr Öcalan and all other political prisoners being held in Turkey.”

From our own peace process in Northern Ireland and our involvement supporting the Colombian peace process we know how difficult but how important such initial steps can be. In this respect we firmly believe that Mr Öcalan’s release will make a hugely important contribution to the search for peace by enabling this most influential person to play a full and positive role in that process.

We urge the Turkish government to give this matter the most urgent consideration, and would like your Excellency to receive a delegation from the TUC to discuss this matter.”