Hürriyet Daily News – 29.07.2009
NGOs demand better recognition
Several nongovernmental organizations spoke out against the difficulties of civil organization in Turkey in a joint press conference yesterday in Istanbul.
Several nongovernmental groups spoke out against the difficulties of civil organizations in Turkey in a joint press conference yesterday at the Marmara Hotel in Taksim. Representatives from different organizations explained the adversities they faced and expressed their determination to change NGO-related government policies.
The conference was part of the Civil Society Development Center, or STGM’s, “Change Together” project, which aims to support the development of participatory democracy in Turkey. It was announced as the first step in informing the decision makers of a wide public demand toward “freedom of association.”
The center’s president, Levent Korkut, emphasized the importance of civil organization in today’s political systems, saying: “Freedom of association is the circulatory system of a participatory democracy.”
Korkut spoke of the harshness of the foundation-related legislature and jokingly said, “We are happy to just get rid of all the regulations affecting the NGOs negatively, let alone ask for positive incentives.”
Korkut announced their plans to work with groups and deputies in Parliament during the later stages of the project. He expressed demand for an increased civil involvement in the law-making processes, and said: “Parliament is not a place where the chosen are left to each other.”
Nationally renowned foundations such as the Search & Rescue Association, or AKUT, Lambdaistanbul Solidarity Foundation for Lesbians Gays Bisexuals Transvestites and Transsexuals, and Female Politician Support and Education Group, or Ka-Der, were there, along with local NGOs and the internationally active Amnesty International.
Various representatives shared anecdotes and observations. Nasuh Mahruki of AKUT mentioned a former minister of health wanting to sue the foundation because they were “showing off” during the heroic rescues they became famous for after the 1999 earthquake.
Hülya Gülbahar of Ka-Der mentioned the extreme difficulty a very small organization in the small city of Bitlis in the east of Turkey faced when they wanted to put up a banner commemorating Women’s Day on March 8.