Statement, 13 November 2016

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.

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.

A few days ago the Turkish interior ministry declared 370 NGOs and associations which were operating legally inside Turkey to be closed down. Offices were raided following the issuing of the decree. The majority of these NGOs form an essential component of Kurdish civil society and have been providing vital services such as legal advice, help for prisoners and their families, assistance to women victims of violence and promoting Kurdish cultural activities.

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.

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.

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.

Make no mistake; what has been taking place in Turkey at an increasingly rapid pace over the past few months is the most serious wave of political repression in decades. It is no less than an attempt to eradicate all traces of independent civil society and all professional associations, social and political organisations of the Kurds and other opponents of the AKP’s regime, most of which had absolutely nothing to do with the coup or terrorist violence.

The historic breakthrough of the pro-Kurdish HDP in the last two Turkish national elections seems to have marked the start of this process of repression; that dates it well before the military coup. Evidence for this is seen in the angry and frustration of Erdogan and the AKP in having been denied a political majority by the HDP’s success in overcoming the notorious 10% barrier which was supposed to prevent smaller parties from ever gaining a foothold in parliament in the first place.

The HDP has not as yet been outlawed as such but all its senior leadership along with its elected representatives, its MPs and city mayors, have been arrested or removed from office.

This renewed process of repression in Turkey has been taking place step by step for some time now. All the while Turkey’s key allies have remained inactive and virtually silent, at least until fairly recently when statements proclaiming muted concern that Erdogan might well be going too far in his repression of his political opponents.

In fact, this repression went too far a long time ago. Now Turkey is at a critical point with the country showing all the hallmarks of mutating into a dictatorship steered by an ever more intolerant and power-hungry Erdogan. The tragic consequences of this repressive climate, now seen in the mass closure imposed on the NGOs, will ultimately mean more internal unrest and regional instability.

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.



Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question


Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890

Fax: 020 7263 0596

Patrons: Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Kate Osamor MP, Elfyn Llwyd, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, John Austin, Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary,  Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, James Kelman, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall, Melanie Gingell, Steve Sweeney