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Issues and Resolutions of Rights-Based NGOs in Turkey

Issues and Resolutions of Rights-Based NGOs in Turkey

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Published by Uğur Özkan

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Published by: Uğur Özkan on Jul 07, 2011
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The interviewees expressed their problems with the state in different words. This sen-
tence, uttered by one interviewee summarizes what all others have stated: “The state
does not give us money.” Nevertheless, the organizations try to keep good relations
with the state; they act as if it is not the state that is responsible for all these expe-
riences and as if it is not the state that discriminates: “The state does not try to stop
the handicapped. The state does not develop a special attitude towards this specific
group. That is, it will not say I will not grant you your rights or will not do anything
for you. The state may not be adequately sensitive, may not try to implement the laws,
in this sense, the state does not act on intention but is at fault. We have to define this
very clearly. The state does not have a systematic policy about the handicapped. It is
not the state’s intention not to provide services to the handicapped and to isolate them
in their homes. Ignorance of the problem is due to insensitive behavior, it is not on
purpose. Here, what we call the civil society comes to the forefront. That is to have
the rights implemented, which should have been done by the state.” (The Cerebral
Paralysis Association of Turkey, Süleyman Akbulut)

The effort to get along well with the state could be explained by the desire to get state
support for the solution of their economic hardships.

The quotation reads ‘to have the rights implemented’, yet, an examination of their
activities reveals that rather than seeking remedies, the associations try to provide


the services and to perform the responsibilities which actually belong to the state. For
instance, while the state has to build all schools in a design accessible by every child,
some associations are trying to make the existing schools accessible to children with
orthopedic disabilities, and others are endeavoring to build schools for the deaf, blind
or mentally disabled children. Moreover, they build those schools, too; without ever
thinking that they themselves are practicing discrimination through the very school
that they had built by years of striving. Nearly all associations make reference to soci-
al adaptation. Yet, they do not realize that separate schools isolate the children from
the society. While it is the responsibility of the state to take measures against traffic
accidents in order to prevent further disabilities, some associations have assumed this
responsibility as their first priority. Instead of reminding the state of its responsibili-
ties, they try to undertake those responsibilities. Some build schools, and some build
rehabilitation centers. Most of the associations are angry with the municipalities who
open ‘centers for the handicapped’ instead of fixing the pavements and the roads.
However, their anger is not only because these municipalities do not fix the roads, it
is because these municipalities are stealing away their members.

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