GuNAL – Tango

TangoWe use acronyms in the field of civil society. andldquoNGOandrdquo stands for nongovernmental organization it means an organization which is neither part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business.

In Turkey, there used to be no tradition of civil society. After the 1980 coup dand#39andeacutetat, the military junta closed down not only all political parties but also all civil society organizations, including foundations, associations and all gatherings with a civil basis.

We have a poor and insufficient civil society movement for now and all the acquisitions have been built in the last 25-30 years.I remember several friends and myself trying to lobby the government in order to get all the ministersand#39 signatures to establish an Amnesty International (AI) Turkey branch.

Amnesty International is a worldwide international non-profit human rights organization — an international NGO, or INGO. At that time, a previous Law of Associations was in force that prescribed that the written consent of the Cabinet was needed to establish an INGO branch in Turkey.

If the issue was human rights and if the name of the NGO was AI, the government saw the issue as a security problem rather than a matter of the right of association, at the beginning of the 2000s.Later on, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) became in charge and started a fantastic reformist atmosphere.

They changed the legal structure and amended most of the laws in a revolutionary manner During the years 2004-2005, we were in shock and couldnand#39t believe that such things were happening in Turkey, but that was 10 years ago. Starting from 2006, we did not see any steps taken forward, and starting from 2010, we saw steps taken backward.

In the civil society area, particularly in human rights, we have a limited number of NGOs trying to change the current situation. We have AI, the Human Rights Association (IHD), the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TIHV), the Helsinki Citizensand#39 Assembly (HYD), the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER), the Human Rights Research Association (IHAD) and my organization, the Human Rights Agenda Association (IHGD), all mainstream human rights organization which are significant thematic NGOs in womenand#39s rights, childrenand#39s rights, LGBT rights, disabled rights, refugee rights and so on.

We have recently started to see some government-operated NGOs, with the acronym andldquoONGO.andrdquo There are also other types of NGOs that are business-oriented, called andldquoBINGOs.

andrdquoNow there is more than one organization that acts in accordance with AKP policies and works to validate the sinking partyand#39s policies, and they are directed by family members of top AKP officials. For example, President Recep Tayyip ErdoIanand#39s son, daughter and son-in-law are directing some of these kinds of organizations by means of acting as board members or presidents.

They control a large amount of money, while real NGOs are struggling to pay the bills and the monthly office rent. These new organizations are acting as the leader of the civil society movement in Turkey and enjoying all the utilities of the state.

They are able to use all the resources of the state, which are just a phone call away because they are close to the government. They donand#39t pay rent and use state-owned property they donand#39t pay taxes because they are exempt they have different types of immunities and privileges, and so on.

This discrimination is continuing and as weand#39ve learned from the Dec. 17 and 25 graft probes, these organizations are being used as the money laundering machine of corruption.

Guess what this kind of new-style NGOs have as an acronym!ErdoIan says, andldquoender equality, the rule of law, political participation, civil society and transparency are among the indispensable elements that are the imperatives of democratization.andrdquo Is there anyone who will lend an ear.

SOURCE: The East African