Leaders of the Turkish teachers' union, Egitim Sen, were among 29 public sector trade unionist appearing in court last week, after ten months of incarceration. A further 27, who are all members of the public sector umbrella union KESK are still awaiting trial. All were arrested under anti-terror laws, which are routinely used by the government of Tayyip Erdogan to suppress dissent.

Many teachers were in the forefront of the against the neo-liberal policies of the Turkish government which culminated in the occupation of Gezi Park in May/June 2013. Egitim Sen and KESK led a general strike against police brutality at that time. Moreover teachers and academics who campaign against privatisation and other corporate education 'reform' measures are arrested and victimised in other ways.

In 2012, teachers campaigning against a neo-liberal reform, which would have cut pre-school education and limited the right to education to eight years for many children, were attacked by police using water cannon and pepper spray. On teachers' day in 2013, a mass demonstration of teachers was brutally attacked by police. The teachers were demanding the employment of 200,000 trained teachers without jobs, under conditions where schools are desparately understaffed.

KESK and Egitim Sen are under continual attack by the Erdogan government, precisely because they never cease to struggle against its policies. The use of anti-terrorism legislation to arrest and imprison them is a gross infringement of their democratic rights. It goes without saying that they deny any links to terrorist organisations. Six trade unionists were sent back to prison last week, while 23 were released on bail. They have received a great deal of support from global union federations including the ITUC and Education International, both of whom sent representatives to their trial. There were demonstrations outside the court, which were also attacked by police. The protesters were addressed by representatives from around the world.