April 16, 2015

Prosecutors conducting ‘terror' probe of prominent Turkish charity

A statement recently sent to the charity organization Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anybody There) by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has revealed that the prosecutor's office has been conducting an investigation against the charity on the charges of “terrorism.”

The scandalous investigation was revealed to the public after Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Musa Yücel sent a statement to Kimse Yok Mu's management to ask the charity to send information about the organization's activities for Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice). After receiving the request, the charity organization's lawyers applied to the prosecutor's office to learn the details of the investigation of Kimse Yok Mu. When the lawyers went to the Ankara courthouse to examine the investigation file, they found that the investigation includes charges of being an "armed terrorist organization;" however, as the court had ordered that the details of the investigation remain confidential, the lawyers could not examine the content of the investigation file.

During Eid al-Adha, animals are slaughtered as a reminder of the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, to God as an act of obedience and submission. A portion of the meat is then distributed to the poor, along with other charitable donations, as per Islamic tradition. Each year, tens of thousands of animals are sacrificed by Kimse Yok Mu and the meat is distributed to people in need in various poor countries around the world.

Kimse Yok Mu, which is affiliated with the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, has become a target in a battle launched by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against the movement. Several pro-government media outlets are carrying out a smear campaign, with publications accusing the charity of engaging in illegal fundraising activities despite a lack of evidence to that effect.

Speaking with Today's Zaman, Kimse Yok Mu's lawyer Muhittin Yılmaz said that they learned about the investigation, founded on baseless accusations, after they received the statement from Yücel. Yılmaz said that there was a court order that imposed confidentiality on the investigation, adding, “When we examined the court order, we understood that the investigation is being conducted based on ‘armed terrorist organization' charges.”

Kimse Yok Mu came to public attention in September of last year after its right to collect charitable donations was rescinded in a cabinet decision early in October of last year. However, the Council of State issued a stay of execution on the cabinet decision to rescind the charity's right to collect charitable donations, saying the decision was against the law.

The 10th Chamber of the Council of State announced on Nov. 25, 2014 its decision regarding an appeal filed by the charity against the October 2014 cabinet decision that removed Kimse Yok Mu's right to collect donations without obtaining permission from the relevant authorities. Noting that the cabinet argued that the charity was involved in irregularities in collecting donations in the justification for its decision, the court said it found no irregularity that would lead the charity to lose its qualifications as an organization that exhibits “accountability, transparency, institutionalization and reliability.”

Published on Cihan, 16 April 2015, Thursday