Simon Dubbins, director of International and Research of the UK’s Unite the Union responded to the questions of Gözde Çağrı Özköse of MA about a letter condemning military action sent by the general secretaries of 16 trade unions to the Turkish ambassador in London.
Dubbins said that the union has been organising solidarity actions with the Kurds for a long time, as well as campaigning for freedom for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.
“The situation got worse and worse, so we wanted to get it put on record that it is appalling and they should cease doing it,” he said, referring to Turkey’s military actions in northern Iraq and Kobane.
Turkey should end the conflict and resort to negotiation, he continued. “We know from our own experience in Ireland, if a big part of the population feels oppressed people will always resist and fight for their rights and freedoms, so in the end people have to talk to each other to try and find a solution, and that is the only way to resolve this.”
Dubbins says that the letter argues on how a Belgian court ruled that the PKK is not a terrorist organisation, and that trade unions should put pressure on the UK government to make a similar reassessment of the PKK terror listing. Dubbins argued that if the PKK were removed from the terrorist list, people would have more knowledge of the issue and would be able to more effectively find a solution.
However, the UK government’s commercial, strategic and arms partnerships with Turkey run deep, which complicates the issue they are struggling with, he noted.
The UK’s Unite the Union supports the Freedom for Öcalan Campaign with the view that Öcalan must be freed and allowed to play his role in securing an inclusive and lasting stability in Turkey and the Middle East, he explained.
“Although the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and the European Human Rights institutions have repeatedly pointed to and condemned the imposition on Öcalan of this state of isolation, no one has taken any real action on it.”
Dubbins pointed out how the Kurdish political movement and the movement of Unite the Union have similarities and share values such as democracy, peace, women’s rights and inclusivity. He added, “We discuss and analyse the Kurdish movement and also the women’s movement, in our meetings.”