Turkey releases 275 airport construction workers after protests

Turkey releases 275 airport construction workers after protests
More than 500 workers protesting site deaths and poor conditions were arrested over the weekend in Istanbul.
2 min read
17 September, 2018
Worker at entrance of Istanbul's new airport [Getty]
Istanbul's governor says 275 construction workers at the city's new airport who protested poor conditions and site deaths were released.

State-run Anadolu agency quoted governor Vasip Sahin as saying on Monday the construction company is trying to improve working conditions.

Arzu Cerkezoglu, head of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey, told AP that over 500 workers were detained over the weekend, taken from their construction site sleeping quarters.

Local media said police on Friday used tear gas to break up a protest by workers demanding better conditions, including improved safety. Another 20 were arrested on Saturday as they demonstrated in support of the detained workers.

The new airport, one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's major construction projects, is to open on 29 October.

The news comes a day after 160 workers were released. It's not immediately clear if the 275 workers said to be released on Monday include those freed yesterday.

Some 35,000 people are employed on the construction project, but it has come under fire over its safety record after 27 workers died at the site.

Several workers previously told AFP the number of deaths was likely much higher, saying accidents were very common there.

Turkey has arrested more than 77,000 people under emergency laws passed two years ago after the failed coup attempt.

Rights groups have criticised the scale of the purge and emergency laws used to stifle dissent and carry out sweeping mass arrests.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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