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RAIL workers overwhelmingly voted to support jailed Turkish journalists today, warning that the country’s government was “placing its strategic interests above human rights and democracy.”
Transport union TSSA will now affiliate to the Journalists for Democracy in Turkey and Kurdistan campaign, which was set up at the initiative of the Morning Star’s National Union of Journalists chapel.
Euston delegate Sarah-Jane McDonagh said the work of the Morning Star and the campaign had been crucial in bringing to attention the persecution of journalists in Turkey.
She said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had “presided over a brutal and authoritarian regime in Turkey,” noting: “Around this time last year, while rolling out the red carpet for Erdogan, Theresa May said Turkey was a true friend of Britain and used the phrase ‘Kurdish terrorism’.”
The motion raised the plight of Jin News journalist Kibriye Evren, who will face trial next month, saying she faces the “possibility she will die before she appears in court.”
The union demanded that the British government “stop normalising relations with Turkey, including arms sales and trade, while [the country] continues to persecute and jail its own people.”
TSSA will also send a letter of solidarity to the Freedom for Kibriye Evren campaign and to jailed journalist Seda Taskin.
Delegates also urged the Labour Party, to which TSSA is affiliated, to speak out on the issue, saying this was “desperately needed and could reduce tensions.”
The union will now consider making the situation in Turkey the subject of its policy motion submitted to this year’s Labour Party conference.
At the launch of Journalists for Democracy in Turkey and Kurdistan, journalist and artist Zehra Dogan said it was “a very big revolution in the field of journalism” and a “very big opportunity for our voices to be heard.”
She explained: “This is something we as Kurdish journalists have wanted for a very, very long time.”
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