Monday, March 22, 2010

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

19 March 2010

International solidarity needed to press for expedited appeal

ImageLawyers 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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