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Scots activists condemn suppression of NGOs in Turkey

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​Kurdish solidarity activists say Turkish crack-down on civil society is an assault on democracy

Scottish activists have condemned the suppression of civil society groups in Turkey.

It is estimated that 370 charities, NGOs and trade unions have been shut down by government decree since a failed coup in the country in July.

Organisations targeted have had their offices sealed and members have been warned to stay away from them.

They have been accused of having contacts with either the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), the Gulen Movement, which is said to have been behind the coup attempt, or Islamic State.

The closure of these organisations must be condemned by all people who believe in democracy

However, activists say these accusations are simply a smokescreen allowing Turkish president Recip Erdogan to clamp down on dissent.

The groups include the Free Women’s Congress (KJA) which is the umbrella for Kurdish women’s organisations, Selis Women’s Association and the Gundem Cocuk (Agenda Child) Association which investigates reports of child abuse and sexual exploitation.

Also targeted have been the Kurdish Writer’s Union, the Mesopotamia Culture Centre, the Mesopotamia Lawyer’s Association, the Libertarian Lawyer’s Association, the Peace Association, the Association to Fight Poverty Sarmasik, which provides monthly help for 5,000 families, the Free Journalist Union, the Seyr-i Mesel Theatre Company, the Solidarity Association for Families of Prisoners, the Rojava Association, which was coordinating help for Rojava, and the Politics Academy of the DBP.

The civil society clamp-down follows recent arrests of the leaders of the Kurdish HDP, the third largest party in Turkey’s parliament, and 10 of their MPs, the removal from office of elected mayors to be replaced by government appointees and the closing down of newspapers, radio and television stations.

Glasgow-based Roza Salih of Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan said: “We are shocked to hear of the closure of so many non-governmental organisations.

“When I visited Kurdistan a year ago I visited the Rojava Association a charitable organisation who were raising money to support refugees from Kobane and had helped the victims of flooding in Turkey.

“The KJA women’s organisation supported women’s groups who tackled domestic violence, provided education for women and helped them establish businesses as well as providing a strong voice for women across the region.

“The closure of these organisations and others is another sign that Turkey is heading for dictatorship and must be condemned by all people who believe in democracy.”