Municipality transfers property worth TL 371 million to pro-gov’t foundation

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses the crowd during the meeting of Ensar Foundation at the Halic Congress Center in Istanbul, Turkey on May 28, 2017. (Anadolu Agency)

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has transferred public land worth TL 371 million and nine buildings to the pro-government Ensar Foundation, which came to public attention after the revelation of a sexual abuse case involving 45 children in March 2016, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Monday.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul spokesperson Tarık Balyalı drafted a report detailing government support for particular foundations such as the Turkish Youth and Education Service Foundation (TÜRGEV), headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son, and the Ensar Foundation over the last three years. CHP group deputy chair Ertuğrul Gülsever said this support is an indication of Erdoğan’s plan to raise generations he has dreamt of.

According to the report, public property worth billions of lira have been transferred to pro-government foundations like Ensar by AKP municipalities and ministries.

Gülsever brought to mind Erdoğan’s wish to raise a “pious generation” and said this was being realized by funding pro-government foundations using government resources and public property.

CHP Deputy Chairwoman and Bursa deputy Lale Karabıyık recently criticized an agreement between the Education Ministry and the Ensar Foundation, arguing that to work jointly in planning and organizing extracurricular activities in the fields of the arts, culture, sports and the sciences takes the foundation under government protection.

Bringing to mind the scandal that the foundation is widely remembered for, Karabıyık said it is unacceptable for foundations to be given such broad roles and responsibilities in public schools.

In March 2016 Turkey was shaken by news of a child abuse scandal in the central province of Karaman. As many as 45 boys were allegedly abused by a male teacher in houses operated by the pro-government Ensar Foundation in the province.

Following the eruption of the scandal, many government officials made statements in defense of the Ensar Foundation, describing the incident as an “isolated” one. None of them called on the Ensar Foundation to give an accounting of the incident.

The defendant, Muharrem B., (54), who was charged with “sexual assault of a minor,” “deprivation of freedom” and “coercing a minor to read and watch obscene material,” was taken into custody on March 4 and later arrested. He was handed down 508 years in prison in the case.

The then-Family and Social Policies Minister Sema Ramazanoğlu attracted criticism when she said just because such an incident of child abuse happened once, the Ensar Foundation cannot be defamed because it is a foundation offering many important social services.

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