British train drivers union demands the government to end arm sales to Turkey

British train drivers union demands the government to end arm sales to Turkey


British train drivers union Aslef demanded the British government end arm sales to Turkey, saying it is “wrong to profit from the oppression of the Kurds.”

In a letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab British train drivers union Aslef warned of the “poltically motivated attacks” on the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the oppression of the Kurdish people.

General Secretary Mick Whelan warned of the renewed threats to close it down being voiced by the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has a confidence and supply arrangement as junior partners to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“Last year saw the arrest of democratically elected HDP members of parliament on trumped up terror charges, along with the removal of HDP mayors. These mayors have been replaced with appointed trustees by the Turkish government, essentially operating as puppets,” the letter said.

He welcomed the decision in October 2019 by the British government to pause exports on the sale of arms to Turkey that may have been used during its illegal invasion of the largely Kurdish region of Afrin in northern Syria.

But Mr Whelan said the measures did not go far enough. Evidence suggests that the pause was only a brief one, with arms sales resuming shortly after. Britain has licensed some 1 billion of arms to Turkey since 2015, a period marked by increased internal oppression and external wars.

“The UK has a history of exporting arms to nations whose political systems and human rights records do not meet the standards that we would expect of our international partners. In the case of Turkey, these exports have contributed towards the oppression of the Kurdish people who are currently spread across Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.

“Whilst the weapons are used directly on Kurdish people, the state also uses false terror charges against elected citizens to further their oppression of the will of the Kurdish people living in Turkey, it is wrong that the UK should contribute towards and profit from these actions,” Mr Whelan wrote.

“To discourage this continued oppression of the Kurds, we request that the UK government seriously consider halting all arms sales to Turkey, indicating that the UK government will not be a passive actor in enabling Erdoğan’s oppression,” the letter concluded.


In a separate letter the union, which represents some 20,000 members across Britain’s rail network, pledged its solidarity to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).


Mr Whelan told HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar that Aslef had “watched with dismay as we have seen your elected officials and parliamentarians jailed on trumped up terror charges as Erdoğan’s government continues to clamp down on the will of those that do not support his oppressive regime.”


The union was central to campaigning for the release of former HDP MPs Leyla Güven and Musa Farisoğullari last summer and vowed to raise awareness among Britain’s six million strong trade union movement in a bid to end the oppression in Turkey.


‘We stand in solidarity with your party,” the union leader said.

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