$5,000 Given By HHRD To Turkish People

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

On the evening of Tuesday, November 01, 2011 at the picturesque Turkish Center in Houston, Five Thousand Dollars Check was given by ILyas Choudry, U. S. South Central Region Coordinator of Helping Hand for Relief & Development (HHRD), to the Honorable Consul General of Turkey in Houston Cemalettin Aydın, as sincere gesture of solidarity and assistance to the people of Turkey for the recent Van Earthquake.

The visiting Turkish Government Delegation and local Houston Muslims & Pakistan Community persons were present on the occasion.

Members of Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts were present. This Alliance is a collaborative of 24 Community Organizations and 12 Community Media Outlets.
In his remarks, Honorable Aydin thanked the Alliance and HHRD for the most thoughtful donation, and said that people of the region of Pakistan, especially those from the areas of Pakistan, also had worked diligently in the 1920s for the people of Turkey, during the times when Turkey was getting her independence.

In his short presentation, ILyas Choudry mentioned that Turkish people have always been in the forefront of humanitarian work in USA & worldwide, especially Pakistan; has contributed a lot to the economy and culture of the world; and that today when Turkey needs much assistance, as thousands of our brethren in humanity in Van Turkey, are struggling in the cold weather after the severe earthquake, we at HHRD feel it as our foremost obligation to assist our Sisters and Brothers of Turkey.

Most recently two days before earthquake hit Van Turkey, Turkish Community had open their picturesque Turkish Center at no charge for the Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts and Turkish Community themselves raised more than $25,000 from their own Community for Pakistan, under the umbrella of the Alliance (up till Nov 05th, $76,000+ have been raised by Alliance for Pakistan Floods victims).

ILyas Choudry also informed that HHRD’s Local Rep. from Istanbul Turkey Imam Zulqarnain, has already done $10,000 worth of food distribution to the most affected families of Van; and that more humanitarian work will continue to be done.

For more information, one can go to www.HHRD.Org

Event was covered by community media as well as mainstream local American TVs Channel Two and Channel 39.

The Senior Government of Turkey officials present on the occasion were from “Ministry of Energy and Natural Resource”.

They included:

Prime Ministry – Privatization Administration
Sefa Sadık Aytekin, Deputy Undersecretary
Ozturk Selvitop, Head of Department, Ahmet Aksu, President
Arzu Atik, Head of Project Group
M. Günden Cınar, Head of Project Group
National Regulatory Authority (EMRA)
Alpaslan Bayraktar, Vice President 
Zekeriya Göksenli, Board Member  
Gülefsan Demirbas, Head of Department   
Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey ( ISPAT)
Hasan Pehlivan, Principal Advisor
Erkan Kaptan, Project Director

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Turkish Government to Return Seized Property to Religious Minorities

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sebnem Arsu

ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish government said it would return hundreds of properties that were confiscated from religious minorities by the state or other parties over the years since 1936, and would pay compensation for properties that were seized and later sold.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the announcement on Sunday to representatives of more than 150 Christian and Jewish trusts gathered at a dinner he hosted in Istanbul to break the day’s Ramadan fast. The government decree to return the properties, bypassing nationalist opposition in Parliament, was issued late Saturday.

The European Union, which Turkey has applied to join, has pressed the country to ease or eliminate laws and policies that discriminate against non-Muslim religious groups, including restrictions on land ownership. Many of the properties, including schools, hospitals, orphanages and cemeteries, were seized after 1936 when trusts were called to list their assets, and in 1974 a separate ruling banned the groups from purchasing any new real estate.

Disputes over the groups’ properties have tied up Turkish and European courts for decades, and the European Court for Human Rights has ordered Turkey to pay compensation in several cases related to religious minority rights in recent years.

“Like everyone else, we also do know about the injustices that different religious groups have been subjected to because of their differences,” Mr. Erdogan said at the dinner, according to the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency. “Times that a citizen of ours would be oppressed due to his religion, ethnic origin or different way of life are over.”

In contrast with its staunchly secular predecessors, the Islam-inspired government of Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, known as A.K.P., has been more sympathetic and attentive to Turkey’s non-Muslims, including Jews and Christians. It has enacted a number of measures since 2002 to bring Turkish law more into compliance with European Union standards on minority rights, so that Turkey’s application to join the union could advance.

The decree issued on Saturday removed legal impediments that had continued to block the return of the properties even after amendments were enacted in recent years to allow it.

“There have been changes made to existent legislation at least five times since the government of the A.K. Party, but they have not been very satisfactory in practice,” said a Greek government official who asked not to be identified because of his diplomatic position. “We hope this time the changes would make a real difference in implementation.”

Less than 1 percent of Turkey’s 74 million people belong to religious minorities; there are about 120,000 Christians of different denominations, including Greek Orthodox, and about 25,000 Jews.

A version of this article appeared in print on August 29, 2011, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Turkish Government to Return Seized Property to Religious Minorities.

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