Turkey confiscated or froze $32 billion in assets belonging to gov’t critics

Turkish authorities have confiscated or frozen $32 billion worth of assets, according to the Brussels-based human rights group Platform for Peace and Justice (PPJ) in a recently published report.

The report also underlined that 213,696 estates have been frozen at the request of Turkish authorities, meaning that the owners are unable to exercise their right of disposition over the estates. No figure was provided for the total worth of these assets.

The Turkish government has permanently shut down 145 foundations and transferred all their assets to the General Directorate of Foundations by emergency decrees. According to a report published by parliament in May 2017, 2,214 real estate parcels were transferred to the General Directorate of Foundations from foundations that were closed down by emergency decrees. The total value of the confiscated assets belonging those foundations amounted to $826 million, the report claimed.

The government also shut down 15 universities and seven hospitals belonging to these universities on the grounds of their alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement, a government critic, the report found. The report further estimated that the total value of confiscated universities was $1.517 billion.

Moreover, 1,419 associations were shut down, with 81 vehicles and 178 parcels of real estate transferred to the Treasury. “However, there is no report on their value,” the PPJ stated.

The report estimated the total value of confiscated private health institutions to be $1.3 billion.

The value of assets of 1,060 schools that were closed down and seized amounted to $2.8 billion, the PPJ calculated.

Turkish authorities also shut down 151 media outlets that were critical of the regime and confiscated all of their assets. These outlets comprised 34 TV stations, 38 radio stations, 73 dailies and magazines, and six news agencies. The PPJ calculated the value of the confiscated media outlets at $1 billion.

The PPJ also highlighted the poor track record of violations of the right to property at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg.

“In Turkey, legal conflicts that arise out of the State’s intervention in the right to property are hardly a new problem. Between 1959 and 2018, the ECtHR rendered 3,128 judgments against Turkey, establishing that there had been a rights violation. Of those judgements, 660 (21 percent) established a breach of the right to property. Statistics on the Turkish Constitutional Court’s (TCC) judgments relating to the right to property are more alarming; 31 percent (2454 of 8036 judgments) of all judgments rendered within individual application procedure established a breach of the right to property,” the report stated.

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