Electors to meet their deputies at parliament

EMİNE KART- ANKARA

Around this time last year an initiative led by’ prominent human rights activists Faruk Unsal and Şanar Yurdatapan was launched, aimingfor a joint effort between NGOs and members ofParliament. Within the framework of the initiative, representatives of the NGOs and the parliamentary deputies who volunteered came togetherand established 13 Joint Working Groups (OÇG).”Peace without a But,” “Human Rights,””Environment First,” “Children’s Rights andFreedoms,” “Rights for the Handicapped,” “AnimalRights,” “Freedom of Expression without a But,””Zero Tolerance for Torture,” “Women’s Rights andFreedoms,” “Global Warming,” “Mind theLandmines,” “Transparent Governance” and”Poverty and Corruption” are the issues which havebeen covered by these OCGs over the past year.After these OÇGs began studying their particular areas of concern, local forums were held in 20provinces where people declared their demandsand ideas so that these issues could be conveyedto their deputies. “Now, it is time for the grandmeeting,” Yurdatapan tells Today’s Zaman, referring to a meeting scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 9.In addition to representatives from 20provinces and the 13 OÇGs, which had the participation of more than 80 deputies, the chairs of several parliamentary commissions including thecommissions on the constitution, justice, interioraffairs, foreign affairs, defense, health, family andsocial affairs and human rights; leaders of theConfederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions (Hakİş), the Confederation of Public Sector TradeUnions (KESK), the Confederation of TurkishLabor Unions (Türk-İş); chamber directors fromthe Turkish Union of Chambers and CommodityExchanges (TOBB), the Independent Industrialistsand Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD), theTurkish Confederation of Employers’ Unions(TİSK); and representatives from the LegislationAssociation (YASADER), the ParliamentaryConsultants Association (PDD) and the CivilSociety Development Center (STGM) will join “thegrand meeting” on Thursday. Yurdatapan explains.The meeting will start with a press conferencein Parliament that will offer an opportunity to better inform the public of the ongoing efforts, whileit will also propose establishing similar forums inthe 61 other provinces of Turkey to enable the restof society to get in touch with their deputies.On Thursday evening, a meeting titled”Prejudices Are Not Allowed” will be held atAnkara’s Kavaklıdere Best Hotel, where representatives of 20 city forums, the heads of the parliamentarycommissions, deputies and representatives of NGOswill gather. The event will end with a daylong workshop which will be held on Friday when representatives of 20 city forums will share their experiences.Yurdatapan believes they have gone a long way.”This time last year, the OÇGs of Parliamentwere little more than a pipe dream. It looked somewhat of an immature dream, too, consideringTurkey’s circumstances. However there are 13groups with the participation of over 80 deputies.The functioning and efficiency of these issue-basedgroups from now on depends on the willingnessand the skill of NGOs and deputies. We did ourmatchmaking introducing the deputies who wereconcerned about the same issues to each other, andthen we introduced them to the NGOs. The NGOsinform deputies constantly with information anddocuments, and then the deputies bring the issuesto tbe agenda of Parliament and work towards creating legal amendments. Keeping the issues alive inthe public mind is a concern for both,” he says.”We want to initiate a new tradition. Tine electorand the elected should come together every month,not once every four years during the election process.”Yurdatapan continues, and he asks; “Is it possible ornot? Could it work or not? Could it be sustained ornot?” Yurdatapan says the answer is actually verysimple: “Yes if we make it happen; no if we don’t.”

Today’s Zaman    07.10.2008

 

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