Ms. Meryem Özsögüt, trade union leader and management board member of PSI’s affiliate SES in Turkey (the trade union of public employees in health and social services) was arrested on the morning of 8 January following her participation in a press conference on 14 December 2007 to denounce the killing by the police of activist Kevser Mizrak. Ms Özsögüt’s attendance at the press conference was the result of a fax message received by her trade union, requesting that the union participate in the press conference. PSI understands that at no time before or during this press conference did the police or other authorities issue a warning that such a gathering or activity was viewed as ‘illegal. Several other people who were arrested at or around the same time as Ms Özsögüt, ostensibly for the same reasons, have since been released.
However, Ms Özsögüt remains in custody and her trial has now been postponed several times. PSI remains convinced that the arrest of Ms Özsögüt was motivated solely by her activities as a trade union leader. Her continued detention in one of Turkey’s notorious “F-Type”, or small group isolation prisons, is further evidence of the Turkish Government’s hostility to trade unionists and its determination to use whatever means at its disposal to repress the legitimate activities of trade unions in Turkey. A response by the Turkish government to PSI’s letters of protest claims that Ms Özsögüt was arrested in connection with “being a member of a terrorist organisation” and “for making propaganda in favour of the terrorist organisation”. PSI calls on the Turkish government to secure the immediate release of Ms Özsögüt, to take any necessary steps to guarantee her safety and to abide by the international norms ratified by Turkey.
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