October 1, 2014

Opposition reacts to witch hunt against UN-affiliated aid organization

In the face of the targeting of Kimse Yok Mu? (Is Anybody There?), the biggest humanitarian aid organization in Turkey, by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, some opposition deputies have described the targeting as “irrational” and there are rumors on social media platforms that the smear campaign is being led by Interior Minister Efkan Ala.

In addition to the several inspections that Kimse Yok Mu? (KYM) has been through in the last nine months, in which no fraud or misuse of donations have been documented, there are reports in the Turkish media that the “public interest” status of the aid organization, which has a global outreach, will be removed to prevent it from raising funds.

Reacting to this in a conversation with Today's Zaman, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Adana deputy Seyfettin Yılmaz said that this oppression is targeting orphans because KYM helps hundreds of thousands of people. “How can you justify the use of an aid organization as a political tool?” he asked, before going on to say that it is completely irrational of the government to target an aid organization instead of supporting it. “What it [the government] is doing is attempting to destroy KYM,” Yılmaz claimed, noting that the country is going through a dangerous period since the government has begun to target aid organizations.

Another MHP deputy from Afyon province, Kemalettin Yılmaz, said that the witch hunt by the government has now been extended to aid organizations. According to Yılmaz, the government holds the Hizmet movement -- with which KYM is affiliated -- responsible for revealing the corruption of the government in the Dec. 17 and 25 investigations. As a result, in order to punish the movement, the government is now trying to take back the rights it has granted to Hizmet-affiliated organizations. “This is not acceptable,” he told Today's Zaman, emphasizing the unlawful nature of the government's actions. Yılmaz believes that in the end, the rule of law will triumph, and that “the only purpose of this pressure on KYM is to cover up the corruption operation.”

Meanwhile, in addition to reports in the conventional media, claims have been circulated on social media that the smear campaign against KYM is being orchestrated by Interior Minister Ala on the orders of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to the claims, Ala has been trying to convince certain families who have been receiving help from KYM to make statements against the association in return for money. A second allegation is that Ala is said to be using defectors from the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to take part in the smear campaign against KYM.

Until recently, despite political pressure, reports prepared on the activities of KYM have all been positive and hence not useful for Erdoğan or Ala. As a result, the social media allegations claim that Ala is trying to fabricate a negative report about KYM with false evidence.

Several AK Party officials, including current Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, praised KYM for its global aid campaigns before the corruption investigation broke out. Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek personally participated in KYM campaigns in his hometown of Batman several times in the past. During a donation of food to the needy during Eid al-Adha in 2011, Şimşek said that he was one of the KYM volunteers.

Officials from the AK Party also participated in an aid campaign in Somalia conducted by KYM. Erdoğan joined the fund-raising via a phone call live on TV.

Published on Today's Zaman, 30 September 2014, Tuesday