October 1, 2014

Inspectors find no flaw in Kimse Yok Mu activities

A report prepared by inspectors assigned by the Interior Ministry earlier this year clearly states that not a single irregularity was discovered in the activities of the charity organization Kimse Yok Mu at the end of an audit carried out by the ministry's inspectors.

The charity has been a target for the government since Dec. 17, the day when a corruption investigation into leading Justice and Development Party (AK Party) figures became public. Due to a government grudge against the grassroots Hizmet movement, as it holds the movement responsible for the corruption investigation, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was previously prime minister and AK Party chairman, Kimse Yok Mu is influenced by the Hizmet movement.

The audit focused on the organization's activities in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The investigation began in February and lasted two months.

In their report, inspectors asked the ministry to allow Kimse Yok Mu to preserve its status of public interest and collect donations.

According to Turkish laws, an aid organization has to spend half of its annual income on charitable activities. Kimse Yok Mu met this requirement, according to the inspectors' report. The report states that the organization had an income of some TL 257 million in 2011 and spent some TL 180 million of this income on charitable activities in the same year. In 2012, the organization spent TL 184 million on charitable activities while it spent TL 161 million in 2013.

Government plans to end the public interest status of Kimse Yok Mu have drawn the ire of the country's opposition parties.

Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Mahmut Tanal, who is also a member of the parliamentary Human Rights Commission, stated that what the government is planning to do to Kimse Yok Mu is against the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“If states cannot help the people in need, then it is the duty of civil society organizations to do that. Trying to prevent the activities of civil society groups is despotism,” he said.

CHP deputy Atilla Kart expressed the belief that the AK Party government is trying to take revenge for the corruption investigations. “[Kimse Yok Mu] was inspected twice and no irregularity was discovered as a result of the inspections. But the government is not happy with it. The government always creates enemies for itself. And it resorts to certain methods in order to take revenge on these enemies,” the deputy stated.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Alim Işık described the AK Party government's plans against Kimse Yok Mu as “unacceptable.”

“The government is acting with a motive to get back at [its critics]. The government does not stop unlawful donations to the Foundation for Youth and Education in Turkey [TÜRGEV] but it is planning to launch an operation against a charity organization that lends a helping hand to those in need thanks to donations made by charitable givers,” he said, adding that the Turkish people will not remain silent in the face of unlawful government action against Kimse Yok Mu.

Kimse Yok Mu is the only aid organization in Turkey that holds UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) special consultative status, and it developed internationally recognized relief programs in partnership with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in 2013. It was also granted the Turkish Grand National Assembly Outstanding Service Award in 2013 under AK Party rule.

Arınç says arbitrary action cannot be taken against Kimse Yok Mu

Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bülent Arınç has said there must be a legal basis for revoking the public interest status of Kimse Yok Mu, the largest volunteer and global aid organization based in Turkey, ruling out the possibility of arbitrary action against the charity.

“You cannot say that you gave [Kimse Yok Mu] the authority to collect donations yesterday but that you are removing that authority today. There must be legal grounds for this [action]. If this happens, then administrators of this organization may seek their legal rights against the Cabinet in court,” Arınç told reporters on Monday during a press conference that followed a weekly Cabinet meeting.

Arınç also said developments surrounding Kimse Yok Mu had not been not discussed during Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

On Monday, the Taraf daily ran a story arguing that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government planned to remove Kimse Yok Mu's public interest status, which would prevent it from collecting donations. The report said the proposal is now pending in the Cabinet, expecting it to take effect before the Eid al-Adha holiday, which will start on Saturday.

Kimse Yok Mu delivered an official statement on Monday, harshly criticizing the prospect of a change in their status without legal grounds for the decision. "We do not want to believe that the government would be a part of such a plot against our organization," the group said in its statement.

Asked if the Cabinet has taken any action against Kimse Yok Mu so far, Arınç said he has not seen any document signed by ministers against the charity. “But I cannot say that such a thing may or may not happen [in the future],” he added, elevating concerns that the government may put its alleged plans against Kimse Yok Mu into action at any time.

The deputy prime minister also said he knows Kimse Yok Mu. “Its name appears in newspapers. I know that [the Kimse Yok Mu] organization collects sacrificial animals and donations [for people in need]. There is nothing clear about the speculations [of whether Kimse Yok Mu will be prevented from collecting donations],” he noted.

Published on Today's Zaman, 01 October 2014, Wednesday