Turkey shuts down 370 NGOs in new step towards tyranny: Kurdish organization

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. File photo

ARA News

Ankara – The Turkish authorities have closed down over 370 NGOs for links to the Gulen movement, the Kurdish PKK or leftwing organizations.

“First the Turkish authorities came for the politicians, then they came for the journalists and the lawyers, the academics and students, then the political advisors and now it is the turn of NGOs,” the UK-based Peace in Kurdistan Campaign said in a statement obtained by ARA News.

“Hundreds of NGOs have become the latest victims to feel the wrath of President Erdogan and his clampdown on democracy which he is carrying out under pretext of eradicating the social and political support base of the failed coup,” the group added.

“Out of the 370 total 199 are Kurdish and they are accused of being affiliated to the PKK, while 153 of the other NGOs are alleged to be linked to the Gulen-movement, whom Erdogan accuses of instigating the coup. A further 18 NGOs have alleged links to the left-wing DHKP-C front while the remaining eight to the Islamic State – ISIS. Therefore the vast majority are Kurdish,” the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign said.

Since the failed coup last summer, the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP)-controlled government has cracked down on several institutions, including the civil society, media, army, police, and justice system.

Since the failed coup attempt, more than 110,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants have been suspended or dismissed, and 36,000 formally arrested in a crackdown that President Tayyip Erdogan’s critics say is quashing legitimate opposition.

“While the AKP insists that its clampdown on civil and political liberties is a necessary response to the coup, it is clear that the Kurds took no part in the coup attempt; indeed, they were outspoken in their opposition to it,” the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign said.

“But in flagrant disregard of this fact, Turkey’s leaders have unleashed a ruthless suppression of every aspect of Kurdish civil society from its independent broadcast media and newspaper journalists, to elected political representatives in national and local government and their political advisors. It is now the turn of NGOs to come into the firing line,” the activist group said.

Moreover, although the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) is not outlawed yet, all of its senior leadership, MPs, city mayors, have been arrested or removed from office.

“Wise counsel and quiet diplomacy have utterly failed to compel Erdogan to see sense and change course because he is hell-bent on achieving supreme power as life president. Such a regime where one man decides what political activities are permissible is totally alien to the modern democratic traditions. Now is the time to take action against Erdogan’s creeping tyranny,” the Kurdish organization said.

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