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Spotlight on the Boycott Turkey campaign

Ethical Consumer asked the UK Boycott Turkey campaign to write about its work and to explain to us why it is targeting white goods brands Beko and Grundig.

The UK Boycott Turkey campaign emerged in response to a call from Kurdish and Turkish civil society groups for international solidarity and action against the regime in Turkey.

The campaign highlights institutions and corporations that are complicit in the oppressive policies of the Turkish state. We collaborate closely with the UK Kurdish Assembly and other community groups affected by the Turkish state.

The current regime is led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the AKP party, in coalition with the ultranationalist far right party MHP. It is quick to imprison political opponents who criticise the state or its assaults on Kurds. Academics, journalists and elected politicians are routinely jailed for using their right to free speech.

The Turkish state has a long history of systematic racism and violence against Kurds and religious and ethnic minorities.

The state has been guilty of ethnic cleansing, deliberately targeting civilians, kidnapping women, and weaponising water and other natural resources. This authoritarian violence goes beyond Turkey’s borders, affecting Kurds, Yazidis and other communities in Iraq and Syria. It was involved in the recent invasion of Armenia, and the civil war in Libya.

The Turkish state also has links with Jihadist groups like ISIS.

Beko’s links with the Turkish military

UK consumers can support the boycott of the regime by avoiding taking holidays to Turkey. Visit the Boycott Turkey campaign website to see how Turkish holding companies that own travel companies and hotels also own arms companies.

Closer to home, consumers can boycott the brands that are intricately tied up with the regime.

This includes several white goods manufacturers selling household appliances from fridges to washing machines: Beko, Grundig, Flavel, Leisure and Blomberg.

While Boycott Turkey UK is specifically targeting Beko and Grundig, in order to have a strategic focus, all these five brands could be avoided. All five brands are part of the Beko PLC brand portfolio, which is ultimately controlled by Koç Holding A.S.

The Koç group is a major Turkish conglomerate which plays a central role in the Turkish economy. It has a long history of links to the Turkish state, in particular through the Koç group company Otokar.

Otokar manufactures vehicles including the Cobra and Akrep military vehicles used by the Turkish police and army. These have played a key role in suppressing protests, especially in Kurdish areas. The company also manufactures tanks, armoured vehicles, gun turret mounting systems and 4-wheel drive military vehicles.

Sales of Beko and Grundig products therefore prop up the production of military vehicles used by the Turkish regime.

We’d also recommend avoiding Sharp products. The Sharp brand is part-owned by the Vestel group. Vestel Defence Industries sells a number of military aircraft.

The website stated that "VESTEL is one of the strongest actors in Turkish and international markets of its industry, and is among the greatest producers in the world." It advertised the sale of Unarmed Aircraft (drones) and fuel cells for armoured vehicles for the Turkish defence industry.

What can UK consumers do?

One in five kitchen appliances sold in the UK is made by Beko. If these sales are impacted by a consumer boycott this could have an economic impact on, and send a clear message to, the Turkish arms industry.

  • Consumers in the UK can make a real difference by boycotting Beko and Grundig. While there is only a specific boycott call for these two brands, we also encourage you to avoid Flavel, Leisure and Blomberg.
  • We also call on consumers to contact the sports teams, celebrities and institutions that are linked to these brands, and to the broader brutal regime in Turkey.

For example, you can Tweet celebrity chef @massimobottura and ask him why he is a brand ambassador for Grundig considering its connection to the Turkish military.

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