Turkish gov’t tolerates ISIL-related associations as closing down thousands of peaceful CSOs

Turkey’s political Islamists government under the rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reportedly tolerated the activities of the radical Islamist associations which are openly related to the radical Islamist terror group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) while it has closed down thousands of non-violent civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country.

According to a report by online news portal Artı Gerçek on Tuesday, Turkey’s official records show that the associations established by ISIL figures in Turkey are still continuing their activities while the government has closed thousands of associations under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

According to the most recent data revealed by the Directorate of Associations under the Turkish Interior Ministry, which has been pretending of fighting against ISIL,  the associations which were linked to ISIL still continue their activities freely in Turkey.

Artı Gerçek reported that the documents which took place in the files of Ankara Gar massacre investigation and regarding ISIL cases in Gaziantep province, the Young Muhavvidler Association was directly established by ISIL in Gaziantep in 2013. According to a report by Hayri Demir from the Mezopotamya news agency, a large part of the defendants of massacres carried out by ISIL in Turkey emerged in relation to this association.

The association was founded by Yunus Durmaz who was the planner of the massacre on October 10, 2015 in Ankara and Suruç massacre. Similarly according to a statement by Savaş Yıldız, who carried out attacks on pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) Adana and Mersin provincial buildings, those attacks were carried out with the instruction of Durmaz before June 7, 2015 general elections. Despite of this information, the ISIL related association which was established in Selahattin Eyyubi neighbourhood in Gaziantep still actively operates.

In addition to this association, the Ahsen Association and the Association of Development and Education of the Syrian Youths, which are also among the associations established by the ISIL, are still on the list of associations that operate. Bahaa Alden Najeep, the President of the Association of Development and Education of the Syrian Youths, was also detained after the wedding massacre in Gaziantep where 54 people, mostly children, lost their lives. Alden had been sued over “membership of ISIL.” Despite of this, the association continues to operate in the framework of the “Humanitarian Aid Society”.

A report by the Joint Platform for Human Rights, Turkish government closed 1,425 associations during the first 5 months of emergency rule in the aftermath of the coup attempt. The number of active associations in Turkey is 111,582 according to the current records of the Directorate of Associations.

Gaziantep ranks 8th in the list of the top ten cities with the largest number of associations in Turkey. While the number of associations in the city was 1,140 in 2011, this number has increased to 1,891 in 2017 following the Syrian war. According to the report, although 40 associations, including cultural associations such as the Media Culture Association which was established by the students for solidarity, were closed by the government, the openly ISIL-linked associations were not touched by it.

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