Gov’t under fire for bill on financing terrorism
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Opposition parties join forces against government’s bill on terrorism financing. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZThe three opposition parties in Turkey’s Parliament have united in their objection to a bill to prevent terrorism financing amid worries that the government may misuse it.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) joined the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in opposing the bill yesterday as a debate on the draft continued. “We certainly support measures to prevent the financing of terrorism. But even some journalists have been counted as terrorists for attempting to write books. That’s why we have concerns on this bill,” a MHP deputy said.
The draft bill includes strict regulations such as freezing the accounts of those funding terrorist organizations, as well as heavy penalties and fines. It envisages jail sentences of up to 10 years for those convicted of funding terrorist organizations or terrorists, even if the money is not directly used for a terrorist crime.
A provision that would open the door for the freezing of assets without a court ruling has come under particular criticism.
Raising misgivings about the scope of the bill, CHP deputy Mahmut Tanal said the bill included no concrete definition of terrorism and might be used by the government to oppress the opposition. The CHP’s Mehmet Siyam Kesimoğlu, meanwhile, said the bill would become a “bullying instrument” in government hands.
“If you give a dinner to a nongovernmental organization and one of its members is on trial under the Anti-Terror Law, you will be considered as a financier of terrorism. It’s unacceptable,” BDP deputy Altan Tan said.
Another lawmaker from the BDP, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, said the United States demanded the bill in order to cut off the financial channels of Islamic organizations but added that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) intended to use it to suppress “the Kurdish opposition.”
If passed, the bill will also serve as a legal basis for police raids on BDP-held municipalities, Önder said.
Following the completion of the debate at the Interior Affairs Commission, the bill will go to the Justice Commission before being voted upon in Parliament.