Year 2000 No. 172, October 13, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
As the Brutal Suppression of the Palestinian Struggle Continues
Workers Suffer Record Levels of Stress
Another Blow to Freedom of the Press in Turkey
The Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey
World In Brief
Daily On Line Newspaper of the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
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The brutality of the armed suppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state may very well lead to a debacle for Israel. Their inhumanity and the Hitlerite character and logic of their acts of "retaliation" against the Palestinian people bringing to mind, for example, the acts of genocide of the Nazis against the Polish people who dared to raise a finger against the occupying army are exposing the Israeli government and its armed forces in the eyes of democratic opinion as intent to impose their will at any cost by armed might.
The disastrous situation that Israel is creating in the region is not to the liking of Anglo-American imperialism, which prefers a war of attrition, a long-drawn out situation of "no war, no peace". This is the whole aim of their policy, to continually spin out the "peace process", while working to consolidate a situation where the sovereignty of the Palestinians is continually compromised. The imperialists are sullied in the eyes of the world to be associated with such bestiality as is being committed at present by the Israeli rulers. They do not wish the region to erupt in flames, for other countries to be drawn into the conflict, for even the Israeli people to seriously consider that the Israeli state must be done away with in its present form, and in particular sever itself from the control of US imperialism.
The British government in particular is aiming to present itself as the most "enlightened", the most concerned to appeal for "calm". But it too wishes to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control, for the Palestinian people to take their destiny into their own hands, and the Israeli people take a stand against the atrocities which are being committed. The British government does not take a stand in favour of principle, that the Palestinian people should exercise sovereignty in their own state, and that the people reject all attempts at outside interference, incitement and manoeuvrings.
The British working class and people, while unequivocally condemning the Israeli Zionists and their use of armed might to quell the just struggles of the Palestinian people, must also see through, reject and condemn the stand of the British government. Robin Cook on behalf of the government must stop his meddling in the affairs of other countries. "Enlightened self-interest" is by no means the same thing as genuine humanitarian concern, and the former is what is motivating the British government, as it considers that the turmoil could ignite a wider conflict able to disrupt energy flows from the region holding the bulk of the worlds petroleum reserves, not to mention igniting a popular movement that could sweep away the imperialist dictate.
According to a report by the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO), examining workplace stress in five countries, level of anxiety, burnout and depression are spiralling out of control. What is more, anxiety levels are set to increase dramatically in the coming years as globalisation continues its relentless march. The study focused on the problems of stress and mental illness at work in Britain, the United States, Germany, Finland and Poland.
It found that despair at work is a growing problem in all five countries, with as many as one in 10 workers affected. The report warns that depression in the workplace is the second most disabling illness for workers after heart disease, and is set to grow dramatically as new technologies multiply, and downsizing, layoffs, mergers, short-term contracts and higher productivity demands become the norm.
As regards Britain, the report finds that the "self-reported occurrence of anxiety and depression ranges from 15 to 30% of the working population".
The report also finds that the NHS is bearing the brunt of the wave of work-related anxiety. Some 14% of inpatient costs and almost a quarter of its annual bill for drugs and medication are accounted for by stressed or mentally ill workers.
Three in 10 workers in Britain have mental health problems, the report says, and one in 20 suffers from major depression. Stress accounts for 14% of sickness leave and 80 million lost working days each year.
This situation, of course, is an indictment of the level of exploitation of workers in all sections of the economy, but it is also a reflection that, as the crisis deepens, the health of larger and larger sections of the people is of no concern to system, since the maximum profits are to be made through speculation, export of capital and other means, as well as the fact that through PFI and other methods, the capitalists enrich themselves through the health service.
The Editor of Yeni EVRENSEL (daily Turkish Newspaper), Ihsan Caralan, has forwarded to the Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey the following press release, dated October 5, for the attention of all democratically minded people and organisations to show solidarity with Yeni EVRENSEL.
Yeni EVRENSEL will not be able to meet with its readers starting from tomorrow for 10 days. The 8th Criminal Office of the Supreme Court has approved the decision taken by Istanbul 5th SSC (State Security Court), according to Turkish Penal Code (TCK), article 312/2.
Yeni EVRENSEL has been published for more than two years now and this action by the state is another violation of freedom of the press in Turkey.
A 10-day closure decision was received today for an article written by A. Cihan Soylu, published on 6th June 1999, titled "Kurdish Problem or the Struggle for Full Equality of Rights". Istanbul 5th SSC alleged that Yeni EVRENSEL commits the crime of "provoking national enmity based on district, class or race differences".
The judges decided on the 17th of February 2000 that our former Editor-In-Chief Tuncay Seyman be sentenced to 20 months of imprisonment and a fine of 5.5 million Turkish Liras according to TCK 312/2. The court changed the imprisonment into a fine and then decided Yeni EVRENSEL be closed down for 10 days. This decision was approved by the 8th Criminal Office of the Supreme Court on 14th June and put into effect as of today.
Consequently Yeni EVRENSEL will not be able to meet its readers until 16th October 2000.
Please send letters of protest to the following institutions with a copy forwarded for our attention on: 020 7275 7245 and Yeni EVRENSEL in Istanbul on: 00 90 212 665 6944.
President: 00 90 312 427 1330
Prime Minister: 00 90 312 418 5743
Justice Minister: 00 90 312 417 3854
Home Secretary: 00 90 312 418 1795
Foreign Secretary: 00 90 312 287 8811
WDIE has recently received the September 2000 Bulletin of the Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey. The campaign was launched by the Liverpool Dockers Shop Stewards Delegation to Turkey, July 1996. The text of the Bulletin follows:
Police attacked the prisoners families protesting against confinement cells once again. The families were prevented from giving a press release demanding abolishment of the Anti-Terror Law. They sat on the tram trucks in protest. Police then attacked the protesters, beating them up and later arresting them (20 Aug) Trade union branches from DISK Confederation of trade unions made a press release to protest solitary confinement. (9 Sept)
Attack on Buca and Bergama Prisoners is continuing: Izumi Anti-Cell Type Prison Platform gave a press release in protest of confinement cells. Prisoners in Buca who were beaten and injured very badly a few months ago are now subject to all sorts of oppression. They went on a two-day hunger strike in protest. The prisoners in Bergama have also gone on a hunger strike in turns. They are not allowed to see any visitors.
Study on Prisoners: A study carried out in Umraniye Prison by the Istanbul Health Bureau shows that many of the prisoners are suffering from serious illnesses yet are untreated. In a sample of 1000 participants: 1 serious tuberculosis, and 38 other serious illnesses were detected. However, it is not known if these patients/prisoners have received any treatment, as they do not have the right to make a follow up. This study reveals that many of these illnesses are caused by bad prison conditions. (22 Aug)
Prisoners relatives protests: Relatives of prisoners have begun to organise sit-in actions in Galatasaray, Istanbul, every Saturday to protest solitary confinement. They have replaced the "Saturday Mothers for the disappeared", who had to stop demonstrating temporarily on the 200th week because of constant police attack. Prisoners' relatives were also attacked by the police and 62 people were arrested. Also 18 organisations including trade unions and political parties held a press conference in Ankara in protest of solitary confinement. (10 Sept)
Yavuz Onen, the chairperson of the Human Rights Association in Turkey (TIHV) stated that the state is trying to suppress protests against solitary confinement by using violence and arbitrarily arresting those participating in meetings and protests. At least 411 people have been arrested since 27 June 00. 47 of these have applied to TIHVs Istanbul Medical Centre for injuries needed medical attention. (17 Aug)
British Council overlooks human rights violations in Turkey: In a seminar organised by the British Council in Ankara, Baroness Vivien Stern of the House of Lords did not mention any human rights violations in Turkeys prisons, while giving lots of examples of violations in prisons in other countries. The seminar "Human Rights and Education of Prison Officers" was held on 21September, with the aim of smoothing the path of Turkeys entrance to European Union. The NGO representatives were not allowed to speak at the seminar.
Attacks on Press:
Evrensel before the Court: A complaint has been filed against Evrensel Dailys Editors Fatih Polat and Bulent Falakoglu for an article published on 21 April 2000 titled "Democracy under Command" with the claim that the article has insulted the military. The hearing will take place on 21 November 2000. In addition, 4 other complaints have been filed against B. Falakouglu, which are going to be heard on the same day. It is claimed that these 4 different articles published different times also insulted the military, the Turkish National Assembly and the Republic. (24 Aug)
Kurdish humour magazine "Sator" is banned in OHAL (the region under emergency rule). Sator has begun to come out as a replacement of Pine after its ban. The producers of the magazine said that they will now produce "Sator-Time" and will continue to produce a replacement each time the magazine is banned. Also they said there are 100,000 words in Kurdish and if necessary they will use them one by one as a name for the magazine. (5 Sept)
Attacks on Organisations:
EMEPs (Party of Labour) GEC member Ender Imreks case is still continuing. He was charged with "helping the illegal PKK organisation, making their propaganda by calling Dersim like PKK does". Dersim is the name of the Tunceli area of Turkey and used by the local people for 150 years. Also, HADEP members Zekili Kilicgedik and Mahmut Yucedag were previously accused of "trying to form a common Kurdish language by organising courses for the same language used by the PKK". However, they were later acquitted. (9 Sept)
Diyarbakir HR Branch closed: Hanifi Isik, representative for the East and South-East Human Rights Branches called for the decision of Diyarbakir Branch closure be overturned. The Branch was re-opened on 19 April 00 with a court decision. However, the governor of Diyarbakir banned the branch for a further 3 months under the extraordinary state rule. Although this period ended on 12 August 2000, the branch is still being kept closed arbitrarily by the Diyarbakir governor. (17 Aug)
World Peace Day demonstrations in Ankara, Diyarbakir, Mersin, Istanbul and Izmir were banned without any reason given. (02/09) The ban on Istanbul demonstration was protested with a press conference by some political parties (EMEP, ODP, HADEP, DBP), IHD (Human Rights Association), KESK (Confederation of Public Workers Unions). They called on the Governor of Istanbul to resign. (4 Sept)
Employment Rights Violations:
Protests are growing against a government decree designed to sack any public workers taking part in boycotts, occupations, stoppages, slowing down of work and strike actions. The President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has rejected the proposed decree twice. A meeting held between the ministers, the President and the MGK (National Security Council) on 23 August resulted in complete agreement of proposing the decree to the National Assembly to be discussed in October.
Strike banned: After a meeting held by the Ministers, the council workers' strike has been banned for two months. This is a second ban of its kind after the tire workers. Many organisations and trade unions criticised the decision for undermining the right to strike. Trade unions see this decision as political and anti-democratic. (19 Aug 00) After governments ban on Istanbul and Izmir public workers' strikes Genel-Is (General Workers Union) and Belediye-Is (Council Workers Union) have organised more strikes for wage increase and in protest of the bans in various councils across the cities. (28 Aug)
Collective bargaining period involving 100,000 workers in metal industry is still continuing. MESS (Metal Goods Employers Union) is asking for short-term contracts, unpaid holiday and extra hours without overtime payment to compensate for short day work. (10 Sept)
IMF Policies: IMF suggested 15% wage increase for public workers. Projected inflation target is unrealistically set 12%. Trade unions and democratic organisations held a demonstration in Istanbul against IMF policies. (30/08) As part of the "fight against inflation" -demanded by the IMF- basic buying price for agricultural products increased only by 25%. In the same year basic agricultural raw materials bought by farmers increased around 150%. 43.8% of the population of Turkey is making a living from this industry. (05 Sept)
Power workers held stoppages for their rights: The power workers affiliated to the Power and Construction Workers Union held a three-day work stoppage on 19 September, demanding equal pay for equal work, a wage increase and the right to unionise with strike and collective bargaining powers. The workers went on to the streets in big cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir in protest of governments IMF directed policies. A police barricade in Ankara did not allow the workers to march on to the city square. Workers demanded governments resignation and expressed their determination to continue with their actions. This has been the fourth stoppage in the last four months.
Teachers Unions demands: In a press conference, the Teachers Union condemned the repressive and authoritarian education system in Turkey and demanded a democratic, scientific, secular and free education based on mother tongue. They also demanded a living wage for teachers.
A 10 year-old girl was put into a deep freezer by managers of McDonalds in Istanbul for selling tissues outside the door. After a couple of hours in the freezer, she was rescued with the intervention of customers. Child poverty in figures: In Turkey, out of 16 million children aged 6-17, 1.65 million are working (61.8% male, 38.2% female) constituting 7.5% of the working population. One million children are left out of compulsory education. 21 thousand children are living on the streets and 700 thousand children have no one to look after them. In eastern Turkey, only 10.3% of all children had their full vaccinations. (29 Aug)
October 12-19 CHINA: John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister, pays an official visit at the invitation of Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Bangguo
October 13-14 FRANCE: EU heads of state meet in Biarritz for preliminary talks ahead of the December summit in Nice. The issues to be discussed include the intergovernmental conference, the Balkans, the EU oil market, and the draft EU fundamental rights charter.
October 16-18 KOREA: According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, South Korean SBS-TV its to broadcast its 8.00pm news programme live from Pyongyang, capital of the DPRK. Special sets for the news programme are to be set up in Kim Il Sung Square in line of sight with the Tower of the Juche Idea. The South Korean television channel is also to feature the lives of the residents of Sinuiju, Sariwon and Kaesong, the drive for the reunion of families separated by the Korean War, and the distribution of the food aid the government of South Korea is providing the DPRK.
October 17-22 SOUTH KOREA: Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji pays a six-day visit, including participating in the Third Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit.
October 19 SOUTH KOREA: Tony Blair arrives in Seoul to attend the first day of the ASEM Summit.
October 20-21 SOUTH KOREA: Third ASEM Summit in Seoul, attended by 20 leaders from Asian and European countries.
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