Seventy-one members of various unions were detained on charges of membership of a terrorist organization or abetting such an organization.
Ankara Police Department counterterrorism units raided KESK headquarters, the Education Personnel Union (Eğitim-Sen), the Media and Communication Workers Union (Haber-Sen), the Trade Union of Public Employees in Health and Social Services (SES), the All Municipal and Local Administration Workers Union (TÜM BEL-SEN) and unions such as ESM and Tarım Orkam-Sen in Ankara on Monday.
As the search of KESK headquarters was being conducted, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Hasip Kaplan came to the premises to observe the police search.
Meanwhile, several operations also took place in a number of other provinces such as İstanbul, Diyarbakır, Ağrı, Bitlis, Siirt, Adana and Eskişehir.
Police raided addresses in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır and Tunceli in the early hours of Monday morning. KESK President Lami Özgen, whose arrest was pending on an earlier court decision, was detained in Diyarbakır’s Silvan district, along with Eğitim-Sen Diyarbakır provincial branch head Kasım Birtek.
Police conducted searches of several regional union offices in provinces including Adana, Siirt and Eskişehir on the same day. Detainees, including Özgen, will be transferred to Ankara to be questioned by the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office.
BDP co-chairmen Selahattin Demirtaş and Gülten Kışanak have slammed the police operation, stating that they regard it as an illegal operation aiming to curb the freedom to organize and unionize.
In a written statement released on the same day, Demirtaş and Kışanak argue that the operations curtail democratic opposition to the government by targeting the unions. “We condemn this illegal operation. We demand an immediate release of KESK President Lami Özgen and other union officials and workers,” the statement reads.
Labor Party (EMEP) Deputy Chairman Kamil Tekin Sürek also called for the release of the KESK head and other union officials in a press statement sent to media outlets on the same day. He sternly criticized the detentions and the operation against the unions, describing the move as undemocratic.