Friday, March 18, 2016

ETUCE speaks up in support of academics in Turkey as EU is poised to undermine human rights

In open letters sent to the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) expressed solidarity with the arrested academics in Turkey. The Committee that represents 131 Teacher Unions and 11 million teachers in 48 countries urged Schulz and Tusk to pay attention to current developments that pose a threat to democracy in Turkey. ETUCE's call for action and the letters drew attention to the fact that "it also seems like Turkey is using its leverage in the refugee situation to clamp down on any person using his/her right to speak freely," and emphasized the urgency of solving the intolerable situation whereby everyone "engaging for peace and expressing his opinion about the current violence in the country, puts himself to danger to be accused of terrorism."

One day after the call was issued, EU countries were poised to reach a landmark agreement with the Turkish government - in a deal that European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International described as "a new low" in a joint statement.  While pointing out the breach of international refugee law in detail, the joint statement underlined that Turkey's president and government have "embarked on an intense crackdown on human rights" and noted that "in their determination to sidestep their responsibilities in the face of the biggest global refugee crisis since World War II, EU leaders have been mute in their response to these trends [of intense crackdown] in the misguided hope of securing Turkey's co-operation in stopping the boats."