Dec 17 2017

Turkey uses veto threat to remove Gülen-linked foundation from OSCE

Turkey threatened to veto OSCE’s Dec. 7-8, 2017 ministerial council meeting decisions, if a Gülen-linked NGO is not banned from OSCE meetings, German public broadcaster DW reported.

Turkey blames U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen for masterminding the failed July 2016 coup d’état, and prosecutes members of his movement that it calls “Fethullahist Terror Organization, FETÖ.” Gülen condemned the coup and denies any involvement.

The crisis has started when Turkey wanted Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) to be removed from OSCE’s Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in September, in Warsaw, Poland, deemed the largest human rights conference in Europe.

Gülen is the honorary president of JWF, and Turkey shut down the foundation’s Turkey operations in July 2016 along with 1,125 other foundations including local charities and professional societies.

When the attempts to have JWF from the September meeting failed, Turkey’s permanent OSCE representative Ambassador Rauf Engin Soysal made a very critical opening speech and left the meeting:

We carefully examined the participants to this year’s HDIM. Among them is a so-called NGO, namely the “Journalists’ and Writers’ Foundation”... This entity is so closely linked to the Fethullahist Terror Organization, “FETÖ”, that it was among the first to be banned in Turkey, less than two weeks after the attempted coup horror.

JWF is no longer listed among the participants of the September meeting on the OSCE website.

Instead, AKP-linked Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) is listed with a presentation about discrimination of Muslims in Switzerland.

Following Turkey’s protests, OSCE’s chair for 2017, Austria, launched a working group to settle the participation rules of NGOs in OSCE meetings. It is chaired by Switzerland’s permanent OSCE representative Ambassador Claude Wild, DW reported.

The working group succeeded to release the tension, DW said, and prevented Turkey’s veto on the ministerial council meeting last week.

 

 

JWF still made the opening presentation on another OSCE event at the Supplementary Human Dimension meeting in November at OSCE headquarters in Vienna. The statement, titled, “Silencing Journalists: The Habitus of Turkey” gives the number of journalists and media workers in Turkish jails as 255.

This is not the first time that Turkey applies pressure to silence Gülen-linked organisations internationally.

In April, pro-government Daily Sabah has reported that UNESCO, one of the United Nation’s six main organs, had removed consultative status of JWF and two more Gülen-linked NGOs at the request of Turkey.

JWF has released a statement on its website at the time, protesting the decision.