Human Rights Foundation of Turkey says gov’t threatened it due to actions during Gezi
ANKARAThe Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) has claimed that state institutions issued financial threats against it due to its activities during the anti-government Gezi Park protests in summer 2013.
“The HRFT, an internationally recognized civil society organization that has contributed to treatment and rehabilitation of torture survivors and the prevention of torture for 25 years in Turkey, is now subjected to financial threat in the form of fine imposed by a public body, the Social Security Institution [SSI],” the HRFT said in a written statement on March 19.
The SSI conducted an audit at the HRFT’s headquarters on June 18-21, 2013, during the Gezi protests, ostensibly to investigate whether any members of staff officially registered as part-time workers were actually working full-time, the statement added.
“Despite evidence submitted by the HRFT, including insurance records and work contracts, the auditor reported that the foundation had made an irregularity. Based on the report, the HRFT was subjected to an administrative fine and was also forced to pay a premium debt,” it said.
The fine amounted to 85,200 liras ($33,000) and the premium debt amounted to 41,000 liras ($16,000), it stated.
Although the HRFT filed annulment cases against the SSI for the administrative fine and debt, they were all rejected, according to the statement.
“Considering the time of audit and the public authorities’ approach to human rights defenders and organizations in Turkey, we believe that the aim of this unfair fine is to punish and intimidate the HRFT for its activities. With this unfair fine, Turkey has also violated the several international human rights,” the foundation said.
Despite the pressure, the HRFT said it is “continuing to provide support to many people tortured during the peaceful protests,” just as it did during the Gezi Park protests.
Some 297 people claiming to have been tortured during the Gezi protests applied to the HRFT in order to receive treatment, rehabilitation and a forensic torture report between May 31 and Aug. 30, 2013, the foundation added in the statement.
It also said it had called on the U.N. Committee against Torture to organize an ad-hoc visit to monitor the violation of the rights of torture survivors, to counter the oppression of the HRFT, and to issue a statement condemning Ankara for pressurizing the HRFT and preventing torture survivors from exercising their right to obtain redress in Turkey.