Recently, we were offered an urgently needed grant through an organisation in order to contribute towards Josoor’s work and continue with our operations. Our initial meetings were extremely positive, and we subsequently received an official written offer of a grant. However, this week, the organisation took a U-turn and rescinded their offer, due to the baseless criminalisation against Josoor by the Greek authorities.
In the email rescinding their funding offer, the organisation stated “we are much aware of the situation around NGO criminalisation in Greece and elsewhere in Europe and while we stand with you in support and solidarity, we are unable to offer you a grant”.
This decision does not demonstrate “support and solidarity”. These false accusations have only been spread in the Greek media by the Greek authorities and were picked up by right-wing media in other countries, but no official communication from the Greek authorities has reached any of the accused yet. They include accusations of forming a criminal organisation, espionage, violation of state secrets and the obligatory smuggling charge. These claims have been directed at two asylum seekers and 33 human rights defenders, spanning four organisations reporting and monitoring pushbacks on the Aegean Sea.
This “case” is just another episode in the year-long series of criminalisation, defamation and discreditation of solidarity with people on the move, only occurring because of the criminalisation of movement itself. Claims and prosecutions such as these are being used politically to discredit reports about fundamental rights violations. They also deter others from getting active and speaking up on this issue. The goal of these criminalisation campaigns is to create a hostile environment for both people on the move and people working in solidarity with them.
To be refused funding on the grounds of these false allegations that have not even been brought to court yet accelerates the shrinking of space for civil society to operate in. We are immensely disappointed in the lack of solidarity and support shown to us by this, and other, organisations.
The widespread fear of showing true solidarity with organisations that are undergoing criminalisation of their work puts us in an incredibly difficult position financially.
The offer has been initially promised following a transparent discussion including all details about this criminalisation process. Asking NGOs as small as ours to spend all this time and energy into applications, to be subsequently told after the last hurdle that the offer is rescinded, is negligent and anything but solidarity.
In addition to the fear of supporting an organisation undergoing criminalisation, Josoor is faced with another challenge: many grants have specific geographical criteria which either focus on Europe or the Middle East, with Turkey not being considered to be applicable to either.
We are currently finding ourselves in severe financial difficulty. More than ever, we need the support of donations if we are to continue with our work at this critical time. If we don’t get enough private donations and all grant providers and organisations we apply to continue to refuse us funding on the grounds of this Greek criminalisation campaign, we will simply cease to exist - and with us, the only organisation in Turkey focused on supporting pushback survivors at the European Union's external borders.
We will continue our work as long as we can. But the reality is: even as a volunteer-run organisation, we need funding to be able to provide support.