Police detain Turkish labor union members demanding reinstatement of dismissed workers

Turkish police detained 13 members of the Confederation of Public Workers Unions (KESK) on Monday as they staged a protest demanding the reinstatement of workers who were dismissed by government decrees under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), KESK members were detained by police in the Bakırköy and Kadıköy districts of İstanbul. Police had also taken into custody union members who wanted to stage an action in Bakırköy alleging “security” reasons on Saturday.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Ali Şeker arrived in Bakırköy to support the workers and tried to talk the police out of their decision to disperse the sit-in. However, police surrounded the KESK members who were sitting with banners unfurled, battered them and took 13 into custody, according to ANF.

The police also prevented the press from taking pictures and cordoned off the KESK members to isolate them from the media.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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