List of Turkish NGOs Working on Human Rights and Democracy

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List of Turkish NGOs Working on Human Rights and Democracy

The following is an illustrative list of democracy and human rights organizations working in Turkey to promote social justice; freedom of expression; legal reforms, economic, and political reforms; and to encourage the participation of marginalized groups.This list is not intended to be a comprehensive compilation of organizations working in Turkey.

Advocacy/Social Justice

ANNE COCUK EGITIM VAKFI (Mother Child Education Foundation)
The Mother Child Education foundation (ACEV) is an advocacy group based in Istanbul with eight branches throughout Turkey. ACEV supports the idea of equal opportunity in education for all and strives to make a lasting contribution to society and to improve the quality of individual's lives through education.

SOSYAL- KULTUREL YASAMI GELISTIRME DERNEGI (Association for Development of the Socio-cultural Life)
Istanbul based Sosyal-Kulturel Yasami Gelistirme Dernegi (SKYGD) aims to support social and cultural activities in places where terror, natural disaster, immigration or war prevent them. SKYGD organizes art workshops, festivals especially for children, and issues publications social cultural activities.

Freedom of Expression

ANADOLU HALK KULTUR VAKFI (The Foundation of Anatolian Folklore and Culture)
The Foundation of Anatolian Folklore and Culture (FAFC) based in Istanbul strives to eliminate legal and practical obstructions to freedom of expression. It monitors cases of violations of freedom of expression. FAFC also conducts research, projects on multiculturalism in Anatolian region and organizes campaigns and public gatherings to promote greater tolerance and freedom.

TURKIYE GAZETECILER CEMIYETI ( Turkey Journalists Community)

The Turkey Journalists Community protects the profession of journalism, its traditions, and the moral principals in media. Also they promote the freedom of speech by ensuring the public has access to true, reliable information and by improving the political conditions for journalists. In addition, they have been organizing training seminars for local media since 1997.

Economic Reform and Business Sector

Economists Platform is an economic think-tank that seeks to identify problems with the structure of the Turkish economy and to provide solutions by establishing a strong and trustworthy medium to be used as a reference in designating policy measures. Economist Platform’s vision is the necessities of a free market economy with a liberal approach based on rational and scientific solutions. Economist Platform is dedicated to making Turkey a participant of the modern world and global competition without letting it lose its own dynamics, historical background and perceptions.

The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) is an Istanbul-based independent think-tank which forms a bridge between academic research and the policy-making process. TESEV carries out research based on scientific principles, and seeks to share its findings with the widest possible audience. In addition, TESEV enhances and encourages social and political transformation in Turkey, supports Turkey's accession to the EU, and encourages the implementation of the Copenhagen Criteria. Furthermore, TESEV believes in the development of transparency and openness in Turkey and the Turkish government.

TURKIYE KURUMSAL YONETIM DERNEGI (Corporate Governance Association of Turkey)
The Corporate Governance Association of Turkey (COGAT) works to lead development, discussion, education, and establishment of knowledge on Corporate Governance. COGAT supports the adoption, application, and practice of the main Corporate Governance principles by private and public associations in Turkey. Additionally, it conducts research and examines the modern principles of Corporate Governance, and provides an environment for the education, discussion and exchange of information and experience.

Human Rights

HELSINKI YURTTASLAR DERNEGI ( Helsinki Citizens Assembly)
Helsinki Citizens Assembly (HCA) is a non-governmental organization that promotes the philosophy of fundamental rights and freedoms, peace, democracy and pluralism. The HCA goals are to introduce the basic rights and freedoms accepted in international agreements and outlined by universal standards into daily life, to promote peaceful processes for the resolution of problems through mutual understanding dialogue and peace, to improve pluralist democratic bodies and civil society initiatives, to ensure the supremacy of the law and to defend an economic system that promotes the well-being of human life and the environment. It tries to constitute a chain of contact, dialogue and mutual understanding, leading to cooperation and peaceful co-existence.

INSAN HAKLARI DERNEGI (The Human Rights Association)
The Human Rights Association (HRA) is a non-governmental organization with 16,000 members and 34 local branches around Turkey that works to promote human rights in Turkey. It monitors and investigates human rights violations in the country and informs the public about them. HRA was founded in 1986 in attempt to redress the consequences of 1980 military coup. Since its inception, HRA has engaged in variety of human rights activities including: addressing the rights of prisoners in Turkey; fighting against torture; promoting peaceful, non-violent, and democratic solution to the Kurdish question; promoting economic and social justice in the society; human rights education; and production of variety reports and publication.

INSAN HAKLARI GUNDEMI DERNEGI (Human Rights Agenda Association)
The Izmir-based Human Rights Agenda Association (HRAA) believes that human rights are values that are above all political ideologies and views. Therefore, it aims to sensitize the public conscience towards human rights violations and issues reports based on universal human rights. HRAA not only deals with long-standing human rights problems, such as torture and freedom of expression, but also operates in the areas of relatively new issues in Turkey such as minority, economic, social, and cultural rights.

MAZLUMDER (Solidarity for Oppressed People)
Mazlumder defends human rights and freedom while aiding oppressed people. Based in Ankara, the organization maintains 20 offices throughout Turkey. Mazlumder is not a partisan organization. It defends freedom of expression of all political views and thoughts. Moreover, Mazlumder works to eradicate torture, monitors prison conditions, and promotes freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief, including freedom to wear head scarves.

Legislative Reform and Oversight

The Turkey Parliamentary Monitoring Committee (TUMIKOM), a volunteer-based organization of 30 provincial branches known as Mikoms, was established in 1996 in Mugla, as Turkey’s first parliamentary watchdog group. TUMIKOM organizes monitoring efforts based on the principles of volunteerism, impartiality, accountability, transparency, rule of law, and democracy. In addition, TUMIKOM serves as an umbrella organization dedicated to nonpartisan monitoring of the legislative activities of members of parliament.

TURKIYE UCUNCU SEKTOR VAKFI (Third Sector Foundation of Turkey)
The Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV) aims to strengthen the legal, fiscal and operational infrastructure of the third sector in Turkey. It focuses on NGO law reform initiative, information sharing and research, national and international networking, and training and development. TUSEV promotes a legally and fiscally enabling environment for nonprofit organizations, develops human, financial, and technical capacity, and facilitates partnerships across the public and private sectors.

Political and Civic Participation of Youth

The Istanbul based ARI Movement is an independent social movement founded in 1994 in order to produce information-based and participatory solutions for the challenges facing Turkey domestically, as well as in the international arena. It promotes establishing a new understanding of volunteerism among the Turkish youth and encourages them to adopt values of participatory democracy into their everyday lives. In addition, the ARI Movement promotes civil society participation in the creation and dissemination of information. It encourages the establishment of civil society organizations that serve as vehicles for participation in the democratic process. In addition, the ARI Movement organizes conferences, establishes websites to raise youth participation, and publishes books about international issues and democracy.

TOPLUM GONULLULERI (Community Volunteers Foundation)
The Toplum Gonulluleri (TOG) -Community Volunteers Foundation encourages young volunteers from every corner of the country to address a wide range of social problems facing Turkey. Community Volunteers' vision is to promote social peace, solidarity and change through the participation and leadership of youth. TOG seeks to contribute to the formation of a youth with social awareness and self-esteem; to encourage young volunteers to develop and realize various social service projects; and to transform the energy of youth toward social benefit. The volunteer projects are run by university students, and focus on a variety of educational, social and cultural services to local high schools and communities.

YEREL GUNDEM 21 ULUSAL GENCLIK PARLEMENTOSU (Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21) --
Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 enables youth participation in decision-making processes on issues of human settlements, governance, and the environment. It has implemented a Local Agenda 21 project in cooperation with the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 40 cities establishing youth councils. It works to improve networking among youth groups, to develop training programs, and to facilitate the establishment of legitimate platforms such as student unions in high schools and universities and youth councils at the local level. Also, it launched a Social Development Program for youth in South-Eastern Anatolia.

Think Tanks

LIBERAL DUSUNCE TOPLULUGU (Association for Liberal Thinking)
The Ankara based Association for Liberal Thinking (ALT) educates the Turkish public on intellectual traditions that embody the heart of the liberal democratic civilization, as well as, engage in activities that promote understanding and acceptance of values of liberty, justice, peace, human rights, the rule of law, and tolerance. It also encourages development of academic research on liberal themes; and contributes to finding effective solutions to Turkey's political and economic problems. Other aspects that ALT sets and influences are broader political debates so as to contribute to the liberalization of Turkey in economic and political fields. ALT supports the idea of liberty, free market economy, human rights, and liberal democracy.

TOPLUM SORUNLARINI ARASTIRMA MERKEZI (Center for the Research of Societal Problems)
Based in Ankara, The Center for the Research of Societal Problems (TOSAM) works to foster a Turkish society based on the principles of multiculturalism, tolerance, and political pluralism. Their mission is to promote a culture of democracy and reconciliation. Every year TOSAM organizes courses that teach peaceful methods to resolve disputes, such as negotiation, and mediation, as well as foster dialogue.

Women’s Issues

ANAKULTUR advances the status and role of women. The center focuses on educational and cultural activities that raise awareness about women issues, build the abilities of women in the rural areas, and facilitate networking and lobbying nationally and internationally. Special focus and programming is on rural development, including gender equality, gender and rural development, women’s involvement in management.

KA-DER (Association for Support and Training of Women Candidates)
Based in Istanbul, KA-DER works to provide equal representation, effective roles, and prevention of discrimination in politics and decision making process against women. Opposed to the dominance of men in the political life, it strives to raise the political consciousness of women and the sensitivity to women’s issues. It aims to remove or change the financial, social regulations or laws that prevent women from participating in politics.

KADININ İNSAN HAKLARI-YENİ ÇÖZÜMLER VAKFI (Women for Women’s Human Rights - New Ways Foundation) --
The Istanbul based Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) - New Ways Foundation promotes women’s human rights on the national, regional and international levels and works to increase participation of women in processes of social change. WWHR focuses on exploring the obstacles to, and potential solutions for, the implementation of women’s human rights, advocacy, and lobbying at national and international levels in order to achieve legal and policy changes towards the advancement of women’s human rights. Also, WWHR distributes materials to facilitate grassroots mobilization and opposition to gender discrimination.

UCAN SUPURGE (Flying Broom)
Flying Broom is a women’s NGO based in Ankara. It functions as an information and documentation hub used to establish networks. By promoting women's empowerment, it also contributes to the process of democratization and development of a civil society in Turkey. It publishes a bi-monthly communication bulletin called the “Flying News”. In addition to the bulletin, they have a radio program to raise awareness on human rights and gender equality in Turkey. Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival has been organized since 1998 based on the belief that cinema has an impact on the promotion of gender sensitivity. Also, one of the “Flying Broom’s” visions is to support newly established women’s organizations. It works on three main areas: networking, communication, and capacity building.