Worker stages naked protest in front of Turkey’s nat’l employment agency

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Battal Sağır

A man who has not received his salary from his employer for months on Tuesday staged a naked protest in front of the İzmir branch of the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR) to voice his despair.

The man, identified as Battal Sağır, took off his clothes and began to throw his clothes toward the İŞKUR building as he yelled: “I am a worker, a hungry worker. They [state officials] are not defending my rights, they are acting like the lawyer of my boss.”

When police teams arrived on the scene and one officer asked Sağır what he was trying to do there, Sağır replied: “I’m protesting the state here. If you want, you can use force. I am harmless. I am seeking my rights by means of this [protest].”

When the police officer told the man that he could not seek his rights like that, Sağır said: “How am I supposed to do that? If you want, you can take me by force. I am a worker, I have been unable to get what I deserve. I am protesting this.”

Some bystanders voiced support for the worker by applauding him.

Sağır reportedly submitted a petition to İŞKUR three months ago in which he complained of not receiving his salary for months from his employer. İŞKUR reportedly lost the man’s petition and took no action on his behalf.

In a similar development last week, construction worker Sıtkı Aydoğmuş set himself on fire in front of the Turkish Parliament in protest of the financial problems he has long been experiencing.

Aydoğmuş reportedly lost his job after a work accident and has been unemployed for years. The man, who sustained injuries in the blaze, said his goal was to make his voice heard by state officials.

The unemployment rate in Turkey was 10.3 percent in October, down 1.5 points year on year, according to data announced by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) on Jan. 15. The rate of inflation is currently around 11.92 percent in Turkey, the highest since 2004.

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