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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

UK charity removed over links to ultra-leftist Turkish terror group

The Anatolia People’s Cultural Centre was found to have a shrine on display at its premises in north east London dedicated to fighters from the DHKP-C

Turkish special police officers patrol the Sultanbeyli district of Istanbul on August 10, 2015 after twin attacks on the US consulate and a police station by militants from the DHKP-C. Ozan Kose/ AFP
Turkish special police officers patrol the Sultanbeyli district of Istanbul on August 10, 2015 after twin attacks on the US consulate and a police station by militants from the DHKP-C. Ozan Kose/ AFP

The UK’s charity regulator has removed the Anatolia People’s Cultural Centre from its register and disqualified its trustees following an investigation into the organisation’s links to a Turkish terrorist organisation.

The findings of the statutory inquiry, published on Thursday, found that the London-based charity had images and items connected to the Revolutionary Peoples’ Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C) on display at its premises.

Ultra-leftist group the DHKP-C is an outlawed organisation, which aims to establish a Marxist-Leninist regime in Turkey through violent means. The group is responsible for a suicide bombing at the US embassy in Ankara in 2013, which left a security guard dead and injured three others.

Anti-terror officers raided the centre in Walthamstow, north east London, in 2016 and found incriminating material including a shrine to two DHKP-C fighters who were responsible for the kidnapping and killing of a Turkish state prosecutor. Copies of a photograph of one of the attackers holding a gun to the prosecutor’s head were also found.

Police said the shrine as well as the images displayed were visible to members of the public from the street.

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One of the charity’s trustees, Ayfer Yildiz was tried for two counts of disseminating of terrorist publications but was found not guilty in May 2017.

A subsequent inquiry, which opened in June 2017, concluded that the material found at the premises “would lead an ordinary member of the public to infer that the charity supported what was displayed at the premises and endorsed acts of terrorism and/or extremism”.

The Charity Commission’s inquiry found that the trustees of the Anatolia People’s Cultural Centre failed to prevent the display of images and comply with the regulator during the investigation into the management and administration charity. The former trustees have been disqualified from being a trustee of any other charity.

“The association of any charity with terrorism and/or extremism is wholly unacceptable. The role of charity trustees is to protect their charities from abuse of this kind and the trustees’ failure to do this or to cooperate with the regulator is evidence that they are unfit to act as charity trustees,” said Michelle Russell, the Charity Commission’s Director of Investigations, Monitoring, and Enforcement.

“As was the case here, we work closely with the police and other authorities to tackle the threats that terrorism and extremism pose to charities, their beneficiaries and their work.”

The Anatolia People’s Cultural Centre was registered with the charity commissioner in 2005 as a poverty and education organisation.