Union leaders face up to 4.5 years’ imprisonment for protesting official inflation rates

Five union leaders from the Public Service Employees Union (Birleşik KAMU-İŞ) could receive prison sentences of up to four and a half years each, following their arrest during a demonstration on June 9, 2022 in front of the country’s state statistics institution, organized to protest the official inflation rates announced by the agency, Turkish Minute reported on Tuesday.

During the protest where the leaders intended to issue a statement, police used pepper spray and detained several people, including the then-chairman Mehmet Balık and executives Mücahit Dede, Himmet Suat Sadış, Namık Kemal Aydoğan and Doğan Dağdelen. They were released after giving their statements to the prosecutor.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office drafted an indictment seeking up to four and a half years’ imprisonment for each union leader involved. The defendants will appear before a judge at the Ankara 34th Criminal Court of First Instance tomorrow.

In response to the indictment, Birleşik KAMU-İŞ issued a statement criticizing the Turkish Statistics Institute’s (TurkStat) methods for calculating inflation rates. They emphasized that the case symbolizes the struggle of those marginalized by TurkStat’s inflation statistics, accusing the organization of pushing civil servants, retirees, workers and minimum wage earners into poverty with the data released since salaries and wages in Turkey are largely determined based on the official rate of inflation.

The union further claimed that TurkStat’s credibility has eroded over time, especially among workers who experience real inflation every day in the markets and bazaars.

The union labeled the police action as a violation of their basic right to protest. They have urged the public to join them at the Ankara Courthouse on the day of the hearing, insisting that this is a pivotal case, impacting millions and their living conditions.

Turkey is grappling with soaring inflation, which reached 85 percent last year and was recorded as almost 60 percent annually last month.

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