The ongoing investigation into the activities of Kimse Yok Mu, a prominent charity group, being labeled as a terrorist group by Turkey’s government, has continued to receive condemnation from various groups within and outside the country.
The investigation launched on the group, is said to be aimed at intimidating the civil society group in Turkey and by extension other countries, especially Nigeria, which the prominent organisation is spanned across.
Activities of the Turkish-NGO are very visible in Africa. It spent almost 68 percent of all its external funding in the continent between 2010 and 2013. Kimse Yok Mu distributed about $17.5 million to 43 countries in Africa to support humanitarian services in 2013 alone.
As at last year November, it was on record that many Nigerian students who performed excellently well in the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the Senior Secondary School Examination (SSCE) were offered full scholarships to further their study courtesy of Kimse Yok Mu’s charity organisation. In addition to that, top performers at the International Science Olympiad get scholarship to study in Turkey courtesy of the group.
That is why the move by the Turkey’s government to cripple the charity organisation activities by wrongfully linking it with terrorist act has continued to receive condemnations.
The latest group to voice its concern over the unjust crackdown on Kimse Yok Mu is Journalists and Writers Foundation (GVY). The group condemned in strong terms the tagging of charity body as terrorist organisation, saying “the case consists of legal inconsistencies, and that the claims are groundless, showing that the case is not legal but aims to intimidate and limit the activities of civil society group and bring it into line,” GVY statement said.
The GYV, whose honorary president is Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, also called on the government to abandon this and similar legal cases that do not comply with the law, democracy and human rights and which aim to render civil society groups, ineffective.
Also, the said charity group which the government accused of a heinous crime like terrorism, is active in about 113 countries including Nigeria, with more than 3 million donors, reaching out to about 4.5 million people in need around the world. It has also been named one of the world’s best NGOs by Swiss non-profit group Global Geneva. Although, terrorism is a global concern, the government’s actions completely distort the peaceful coexistence that is witnessed in that particular society. So, pointing accusing fingers to Kimse Yok Mu, only gives a negative message to civil society groups in Turkey and other countries who benefit from the Foundation’s magnanimous gesture.
Nigeria is among the countries benefitting from the group charitable work. According to Leadership Newspaper, 2014, the Vice Chancellor of the Nigerian-Turkish Nile University (NTNU), Professor Huseyin Sert, said, that ‘’17 percent of students were on scholarship’’. Most of who are benefitting through the benevolence of the charitable group, Kimse Yok Mu. The charity group is said to hold the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) special consultative status. With this pedigree and well known activity around the world, such allegations should not be used to smear the group’s image. The government of Nigeria, through the Turkish embassy, should make their voice known and heard on the matter. It is rather disheartening to watch this benevolent group suffer for what it has not done, and making Nigerians, who are major beneficiaries of the charity group to suffer.
In the same vein, millions of Africans depend solely on this group to either develop its teaming population in the area of education or other welfare needs.
With these activities about the charitable organisation, it can only be wrong to accuse them of an offence like terrorism. The group despite its interest in peace and unity, has been able to encourage inter religious meetings in a bid to finding a lasting solution between Christians and Muslims. It is also associated with the Gulen Movement whose President recently got an award for promoting peace by the Martin Luther King jnr’s International Chapel at Morehouse college. If the group was recognized and appreciated even as they are associated with Gulen Movement, then it would be proper to say the government is tired of being criticized for its many unfavourable policies. It is usually the habit of a powerful government to clamp on any element seen as a threat, but for once, it has been shown to people from around the world, that the government’s action is also a farce.
In a strong reaction against the probe, Kimse Yok Mu lawyer, Muhittin Yılmaz in the popular Turkish online newspaper, Todayszaman, said that,’’ they found out about the investigation when the prosecutor sent the subpoena seeking figures on the organization’s activities for Eid al-Adha in 2011. According to Muhittin, the statement included odd questions such as how much money was collected from donations for Eid al-Adha, how many animals to be sacrificed were bought with the collected donations and when and where these animals were sacrificed.
The prosecutor even asked how many sheep and goats were sacrificed in 2011. However, Yılmaz said Kimse Yok Mu only sacrificed cattle and cows that year, not sheep and goats, adding that such questions show that the prosecutor did not research the organization and that the investigation file thus lacks any concrete information on the charity.
Similarly, other groups have condemned the government’s action against the charity group. The chairman of Gaza Peace Volunteers Association, Dr. Naseer Al Sadi, spoke to Todayszaman about strong reactions to the terrorism investigations against Kimse Yok Mu, saying that they do not believe in this lie and that no one else will believe it either. It is so glaring how the group receives support daily on account of the frivolous accusations directed at the charity group.
Also, the trial of Kimse Yok Mu, with an empty indictment as if it were a terrorist organization complies with neither conscience nor national and international law. The judiciary, which is trying to create a terrorist organization from a TV series, is now exerting effort to create a terrorist organization from a charity group,” a statement from the GYV said. The statement was referring to the jailed chairman of Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, Hidayet Karaca, who is accused of establishing a terrorist organization based on a TV series aired on one of the channels of the group. They went on to add, ‘’We are having difficulty in understanding what kind of benefit the government can obtain by putting pressure on Kimse Yok Mu, which has been carrying out its projects for years transparently and effectively by bringing so many people in need and volunteers in our country and around the world’’.
Idris is a public affairs commentator.