Category Archives: Human Rights
Given the worldwide outrage at Donald Trump’s aggressive, chauvinistic and belligerent policies, this is a crucial demonstration. We are urging all our supporters to take half a day off work to make sure they come to the demonstration. Please promote the demo as widely as possible. We are asking our groups and supporters across the country to organise transport to the national demonstration.
Urgent call for the people of UK, politicians, trade unionists, campaign groups, democrats, intellectuals and all those who take sides with peace, freedom and justice to take immediate action to protest the bombing of Afrin.
On Saturday, 20th January, Turkish war planes launched air strikes on Afrin, one of the three Kurdish cantons in Northern Syria. A ground operation has now begun with the support of the Free Syrian Army.
The Turkish government announced that the operation, cynically dubbed “Olive Branch”, targets the Syrian Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) and ISIS. In fact it is a war being waged on the people of Afrin and sabotages hopes for future peaceful co-existence between the Turks and the Kurds not just inside Turkey but also across the Middle East.
The Syrian government also denies being informed of the military operation targeting Afrin, despite a statement by the Turkish Government that “all parties involved were informed and the operation is being carried out with respect to Syria’s territorial integrity”.
A later statement said 108 targets belonging to Kurdish militants had been hit. The YPG said the strikes were being carried out indiscriminately, and have already killed 9 people, including 6 civilians, and wounded 13 (and rising).
The Turkish government is trying to justify this operation as being for the “protection of the border and security”. In fact, this is a wholly untrue justification of Turkey’s war on the Kurdish population. The real threat to the peoples of Turkey is not its Kurdish neighbours who fought against ISIS and other jihadist gangs in northern Syria and Rojava and built democratic regimes with other peoples of the region.
It is clear that these attacks are not aimed at protecting the security of Turkey because Turkey’s border security is not endangered. Afrin has been the calmest region in the whole Syrian civil war.
Turkey has been waging a war against the Kurdish population in Turkey and has launched these attacks to destroy the Kurdish democratic formations in Northern Syria, considering them as a “bad example”.
The responsibility of the killings lies with Turkey’s ruling AKP government, its leader Erdogan, and those imperialist powers who consent to the attacks. We will not be part of it.
Turkey was placed back on the European Union Human Rights watchlist in April 2017 and has consistently breached Human Rights both within and outside its own jurisdiction. We oppose the UK government’s involvement in arms deals with Turkey and call on our Government to put a stop to these sales.
Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT) calls on the people of the UK, including politicians, trade unionists, campaign groups, democrats, intellectuals and all those who take sides with peace, freedom and justice to take immediate action against these attacks.
Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT)
Send a message of protest to the Turkish Government using the email addresses below.
You can also send a letter to your local MP. If you are unsure what to write, you use the letter below. Also you can also find your MP here: https://www.writetothem.com/
On Saturday, 20th January, Turkish war planes launched air strikes on Afrin, one of the three Kurdish cantons in Northern Syria. This was followed by ground attacks on Sunday with civilian casualties already being reported. We urgently need you, as a Member of Parliament, to take some action to put an end to this bloodshed.
This act of unprovoked warfare by the Turkish state threatens to destablise one of the calmest regions throughout the whole Syrian civil war. Afrin has been a crucial safe haven for people fleeing ISIS in the region, and it must stay that way!
It is clear that the Turkish government’s claim that this war is to protect Turkey’s border and security is simply untrue, and it will have devastating consequences for not just the Kurdish people who will pay with their lives but also the people of Turkey and of the broader region.
The responsibility of the killings lie with Turkey’s ruling AKP government, its leader Erdogan, and those powers who fail to oppose these attacks and take action to influence Turkey to cease its attacks on Afrin with immediate effect.
As a resident of your constituency, I am calling on you to:
raise this issue as a priority with the UK Government,
call for an end to all UK arms sales to Turkey,
publically condemn Turkey’s aggression on the Kurdish regions, and
take any other necessary action to end the bloodshed in Afrin.
This conference is supported by the National Education Union (NEU), who will be hosting us at the NEU / NUT Headquarters, Hamilton House, Mabledon Pl, Kings Cross, London WC1H 9BD
The event will provide an update on some of the biggest issues facing democratic forces in Turkey and workshops on how we can better campaign for change.
We have a great line up of speakers on the day; including Louise Regan (NEU Co-president), Ken Loach (Filmmaker), Fatih Polat (Editor of Evrensel), Seyit Aslan (General Secretary of GIDA-IS), Owen Jones (The Guardian), Kemal Goktas (Cumhuriyet Journalist), Kate Osamor (Labour MP), David Lammy (Labour MP), Hisyar Ozsoy (HDP MP), Mehmet Tum (CHP MP), Simon Dubbins (Unite the Union), Kani Beko (President of DISK), Lindsey German (Stop the War Coalition), Esra Ozyurek (LSE), Mustafa Yalciner (Writer), Aydin Cubukcu (Author) and many more.
We very much hope you will be available to join us on 20 January 2018.
Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT)
Programme for the day.
09:30 – Registration and Refreshments
10:00 – Turkey under the state of emergency
Chair: Louise Regan, NEU Co-President
Ken Loach, Filmmaker / Seyit Aslan*, General Secretary of GIDA-IS / Fatih Polat*, Chief Editor of Evrensel Daily / Mehves Evin, Journalist / Steve Sweeney, Morning Star
11:30 – Workshops Part I
- Workshop 1. Fighting for the freedom to teach and the freedom to learn – how to show solidarity with scholars at risk?
Chair: Mehmet Ugur, BAK UK
Joanna De Groot, President of UCU / Assoc. Prof. Ceren Sozeri / Assoc. Prof. Esra Ozyurek, LSE
- Workshop 2. Declining women’s human rights and gender inequality – how to strengthen the women’s resistance?
Chair: Cinar Altun, Day-Mer
Mehves Evin, Journalist / Owen Jones, The Guardian / Ceylan Begum Yildiz, Academic / Sarya Tunc, Women’s rights activist,
- Workshop 3. Political representation and role of parliament
Chair: Oktay Sahbaz, SPOT
Kate Osamor, Labour MP (Invited) / Mustafa Yalciner*, Writer / Mehmet Tum*, CHP MP / Hisyar Ozsoy* HDP MP / Israfil Erbil, President of British Alevi Federation
12:30 – Lunch
13:30 -Workshops Part II
- Workshop 4. Attacks on workers and trade unions
Chair: Elena Crasta, TUC
Kani Beko*, President of DISK / Simon Dubbins, Unite / Seyit Aslan*, General Secretary of GIDA-IS / Ian Hodson, President of BFAWU
- Workshop 5. What next for Turkey in the Middle East and the Kurdish question?
Chair: Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition (STWC)
Aydin Cubukcu*, Author / Hisyar Ozsoy* HDP MP / Thomas J Miley, Academic / Andrew Smith, Campaign Against Arms Trade
- Workshop 6. Journalism & the role of media.
Chair: Ege Dundar, PEN
Fatih Polat*, Chief Editor of Evrensel / Barry White, Journalist / Kemal Goktas*, Journalist Cumhuriyet / Kumru Basar, Journalist / Steve Sweeney, Morning Star
14:30 – Tea/Coffee Break
14:45 – Final Session – Campaigning to win change
Chair: Christine Blower, SPOT Spokesperson
Mehmet Tum*, CHP MP / Kate Osamor, Labour MP (Invited) / Hisyar Ozsoy*, HDP MP / David Lammy, Labour MP (Invited) / Kani Beko* President of DISK / Ian Hodson, President of BAFWU / Fatih Polat*, Chief Editor of Evrensel Daily / Cagdas Canbolat, SPOT
16:15 – Event Close
*Simultaneous translation will be provided
Although I only managed to get to the second half of Saturday’s Stand Up to Racism conference due to attending SERTUC in the morning, I did manage to attend a particularly poignant session in the afternoon that was not only important in itself, but that has been demonstrated as exceptional vital by events today. It was held in the afternoon on the Grenfell Fire and social cleansing, with an extremely strong range of speakers.
Activist rapper Lowkey, himself from from Kensington, spoke eloquently on the very long history of working class residents of the area having to campaign for their rights to live there. This, in fact, goes back before it would have been considered part of London, or even particularly urbanised.
Lucy Masoud, of the Chelsea Fire Brigades Union spoke next. She described her colleagues’ experiences of facing the terrible blaze itself (easily the worst actual fire most of them had ever seen, even in long careers). She finished with the fire fighters’ resolve to demonstrate through thorough proof that whatever the proximate cause of the initial blaze, the fundamental cause has been austerity.
We heard from two young survivors, Tomassina Hessel and Bellal El Guenuni, who talked about how young people had come together in the emergency to try to save lives, something that the media has largely ignored about this very ethnically diverse, solidly working class, community. They also told us that most of the survivors of the tower are still not in permanent homes.
The last speaker was Glyn Harris, a campaigning housing worker and author on the subject. He related how racism has always affecting housing policy, with members of ethnic minorities often end up in housing that the least desirable and safe. It is also the least economically secure, as witnessed in the way the sub-prime mortgage scandal that triggered the great economic crash 10 years ago.
The speakers all had there own take, but they were all pointing to the intersection between racism and austerity and the way that the basic, and totally avoidable, failure of authorities in their duties toward the public are represented by the Grenfell tragedy. It is fitting, then, they are all proved completely right by the Conservatives being forced to day to confirm that despite promises, they have no intention of providing fire prevention systems for high-density housing that could prevent future Grenfells. Ultimately, people the Tories do not care about live in that kind of housing, and it for reasons like that they we must do everything we can to get them out of office.
The National demonstration, March Against Racism 18 March 2017, for United Nation Anti-racism day called by Stand-up to Racism, is next Saturday.
Barnet TUC calls on members and friends to meet at Argyll Street, round the corner from Oxford Circus at 11.30am.
The day itself, of course, also happened to be the day of further protests against the most racist (to say nothing of also sexist and authoritarian) president of recent American history, Donald Trump. SUtR organisers quite right cancelled the morning session to allow us all to join around 40,000 other people on this lively and important demonstration, and it put people into the right frame of mind for the day.
The opening session contained greetings and introductions from a range of trade union speakers. Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the of the Bakers’ Union, spoke about how his union was combating the myth that immigration, rather than employers, are the cause of low wages. Suzanne Matthews of Unite the Union spoke her work organising black workers with the TUC. Janet Maiden from Unison Health spoke about NHS workers defending the ideal of multiculturalism. The conference then split into three workshops: one on Brexit and Workers’ Rights, one on building solidarity with refugees and a third on the threat of the Prevent policy.
I went to the refugee solidarity session. It was kicked off by Sara Tomlinson of Lambeth TUC, who had been involved in the Care for Calais organisation. Teachers from Lambeth had been volunteering at a pop-up school at the refugee camp operated by a courageous refugee activist who has since received the NUT’s “Service to Education” award. The school served around 100 adults and dozens of children. The school provided a vital centre of normality and stability for the refugees and was more than just a place of education (in a sense, this is true of any functioning school!). It was destroyed when the camp was forcibly dispersed in November, and conditions for the refugees are now far worse, as they now live completely rough as fugitives, and risk death to sneak onto literally any vehicle they can. Care for Calais has continued distributing basic aid to refugees, even though this is now far harder, and continues to appeal for support. Trade unions are encouraged to help out by sending useful items like sleeping bags to Stand Up to Racism and to get trade unionists to the site to help, as Lambeth teachers have. A very good report from Mile End hospital followed about them organising their own-workplace based solidarity collection. Activists are strongly advised to reproduce these actions at their own work.
There was also some good information about things that have been done to help refugees inside Britain. Unite Community in the city of Chesterfield has managed to organise English for Speakers of Other Languages classes for refugees, based on its existing programme to help Eastern European workers learn English. This actually helped build solidarity between the communities and has also resulted in refugees and migrant workers joining the unions at work, which they might otherwise never have had the opportunity to do.
The other sessions also got very positive report backs. For people who do not know about Prevent, a very handy pamphlet has been produced to explain it. Essentially an institutionalised programme of getting education workers to report “potentially extremist” behaviour by students, who are almost exclusively Muslims, has created a surreal atmosphere of paranoia and discrimination that would be funny if weren’t so horrible. Young Muslims have been called in for questioning for wearing badges that say “Free Palestine” or mispronouncing words so someone else can think they heard the word “bomb”. Children growing up in such climate can scarcely be said to be free and enjoying their rights: our movement must oppose Prevent, and champion an education that is actively anti-racist. The session on Brexit was also useful, and contained a report back from the new Free Movement of Labour Campaign, which has been invited to send a speaker to Barnet TUC’s AGM next month.
Generally, this was a timely and very well organised conference that turned what could be a very bleak few hours into a useful organising event. I would support having another one in future.