Court frees 31 Istanbul Airport construction workers detained over protest
An Istanbul court has ordered the release of 31 Istanbul Airport construction workers who were jailed since September after protesting their working conditions.
The hearing of the case in which 61 workers stand trial took place on Dec. 5. The Gaziosmanpaşa Criminal Court of First Instance ruled that 31 jailed suspects in the case be released under judiciary control pending trial.
The workers are accused of “resisting in an attempt to halt works,” “the violation of the freedom to work and labor,” “joining meetings and marches with weapons or tools as indicated in the 23rd article [of the Turkish Criminal Law],” and “damaging property,” state-run Anadolu Agency said.
“The court has announced its decision: It has decided to free our director general Özgür Karabulut, the heads of the İnsaat-İş union, and all the workers,” the Dev Yapı-İş construction union announced on Twitter.
İnşaat-İş also tweeted the news, saying a delegation would head to Silivri, a prison on the outskirts of Istanbul, to greet the workers due to be freed overnight.
In September, hundreds of workers walked off the job at Istanbul’s new international airport in protest at poor conditions and work-related deaths on the site.
31 of them were then arrested by a court ruling.
On Dec. 3, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Ali Şeker said the government had admitted that “at least 52 workers” have died on the site since construction began in 2015.
The mega project Istanbul Airport will replace the existing Atatürk Airport once it is completed.