GuNAL – Civil society closure cases

Civil society closure casesWe established the Human Rights Agenda Association (IHGD) on Dec. 17, 2003.

We received a notification from an Izmir court a few weeks after the association was established informing us that the Public Prosecutorand#39s Office had filed a case to close the association.It was just a few weeks after its establishment, and there had been no andldquoextremeandrdquo actions yet that would make the government angry.

We knew that freedom of association was guaranteed by the Constitution however, you were only likely to enjoy this freedom if you were establishing an association for canary lovers. If the issue was human rights, you were not very free.

The case continued for nearly a year, and we won at the end. The court decided for the first time in Turkey that the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is directly applicable to Turkish law and that it must be applied in cases like these rather than the old versions of the Civil Code and the Code of Associations.

This decision became a textbook precedent and began to be included in law books in Turkey. Later, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) amended all these laws.

For some time, we didnand#39t believe our eyes and ears as we learned that such reforms were becoming a reality in Turkey.There was a fantastic reformist atmosphere that continued until the end of 2005.

Starting in 2006, we stopped seeing positive developments in the field of human rights. Then we started to see steps taken backwards after 2010.

2014 was the worst year, and the first months of 2015 have so far carried the same pattern.Last Friday, a foundation in Izmir, the International Baran Tursun Foundation (Baransav), received a notice from an Izmir court, one week after it had released a report on police violence.

Baransav was established after Baran Tursun was shot by a police officer on his 20th birthday in 2007. The foundation monitors and documents excessive use of force by police, especially extrajudicial killings.

According to their last report, Turkish police have killed 183 people since 2007 without any legal basis.It looks like this last report made some people angry in Ankara, or perhaps they were already angry and the report was the straw that broke the cameland#39s back.

The National Police Department sent a letter to the Directorate General for Foundations (VGM) and asked that a case be opened to close Baransav, claiming that the foundation makes the police a target — ironic, considering the fact that a guiding principle of the foundation is to monitor the targeting of citizens on the part of the police. Whatever the logic, they sent the notification and Baransav will be in a legal battle over the coming months.

Dandeacutejandagrave vu is the phenomenon by which one has the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has been experienced in the past. I sincerely hope Baransav will be successful in their struggle the IHGD decision serves as a precedent for this case.

However, we have to concentrate on the AKPand#39s policies regarding civil society. The same AKP, which amended old laws and brought international standards to Turkey 10 years ago, is now filing closure cases against civil society groups.

They have established their own civil society groups, and thatand#39s why they no longer need other civil groups at all. The question is whether the AKP-affiliated NGOs — or letand#39s be frank and call them what they really are: Tayyip-affiliated NGOs (TANGO) — are really civil or not.

President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan once said gender equality, supremacy of law, political participation, civil society and transparency are among the indispensable elements that are the imperatives of democratization. Did someone say Pinocchioand#39s nose has grown.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman