Turkish media is reporting the detention of as many as 71 people by the authorities in operations aimed against the urban branches of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization which includes the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and other related organizations. Many of those detained are members of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK). The arrested include the leader of KESK. Early reports put the number of those detained at 57 or 58.
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. Leadership of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) observed the raids in Ankara and support the detainees. 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. This statement has echoed through the Turkish labor and progressive movements.
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 also conducted searches of several regional union offices in provinces including Adana, Siirt and Eskişehir. Detainees will be transferred to Ankara to be questioned by the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office.
In all, police launched the operations in 11 provinces.
The implication or charges made in these raids and detentions are that leftist union leaders across Turkey are members of the KCK. The KCK, in turn, is alleged to be the urban wing of the outlawed PKK.