In April, Carleton University PhD student Cihan Erdal was denied bail in Turkey, where he was jailed in September 2020 during a mass arrest of about 80 people across the country.
A May Day event on Sunday, May 2 organized by LabourStart will highlight the situation of union members held in detention around the world. Erdal’s partner Ömer Ongun, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant and performing artist now living in Canada is one of the event speakers.
Cihan Erdal is a sociologist, peace and LGBTI+ activist and a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4600 that represents teaching and research assistants and contract lecturers at Carleton.
Erdal went to Turkey last August to check on his parents during the pandemic. He planned to stay for several more weeks to conduct his doctoral field research when he was arrested as part of a mass sweep of “suspected dissidents” by the government. The evidence against him is two social media posts Erdal made seven years ago.
CUPE has an ongoing campaign calling on Canada to take concrete steps to support Cihan and secure his release. CUPE is asking Canadians to send a letter to Minister Garneau and other Canadian officials to help bring Cihan safely home.
The LabourStart event highlights the plight of detained union members in Hong Kong, Myanmar, Iran and Turkey. Registration for the event, on Sunday, 2 May at noon Atlantic time, is here.
In addition to Erdal’s partner Ömer Ongun, speakers include:
- Monireh Abdi, the wife of jailed Iranian teacher trade unionist Esmail Abdi, who has been the focus of many campaigns over the years.
- Lizaveta Merliak, international secretary of the Belarusian independent unions, who was herself arrested during the recent months of protest following the rigged Presidential elections in her country that kept Alexander Lukashenko in power.
- Khaing Zar Aung, the president of Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) and a member of the executive committee of the Confederation of Trade Unions Mynamar (CTUM) — who will be speaking on behalf of a trade union movement and indeed an entire nation facing severe repression at the hands of the military dictatorship.
- Cheung-fung FAN from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions whose leader, Lee Cheuk-yan, has been subjected to ruthless persecution by the state.
Sign up here to register for the international LabourStart event.
LabourStart is an online news service maintained by a global network of volunteers which aims to serve the international trade union movement by collecting and disseminating information — and by assisting unions in campaigning and other ways.