Turkey and Alevism again: Cumhuriyetçi Eǧitim ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfı

Another round has been concluded in the long-running dispute between the Alevis and the Turkish State – which does not recognise Alevism as a religion, choosing instead to regard it as a heretical sect of Islam.

The applicant association, Cumhuriyetçi Eǧitim ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfı (the Foundation for Republican Education and Culture), a foundation set up under Turkish law in 1995 to manage a number of Alevi places of worship [cemevis], had complained about the refusal of the Directorate of Religious Affairs to pay the electricity bills for the Yenibosna cemevi. The Directorate’s grounds for refusal had been that it paid the bills for places of worship – but that cemevis could not be ‘places of worship’ because there was no such religion as Alevism. The Foundation argued that this constituted discrimination, contrary to Article 14 ECHR, taken together with Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and contrary to Article 9 on its own – and the Court ruled in favour of the Foundation in its judgment in Cumhuriyetçi Eğitim ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfi v Turkey [2014] ECHR 1346.

In its judgment of 20 June 2017 – [2017] ECHR 1346 – regarding just satisfaction, the Court decided that general measures should have been adopted at the national level in order to eliminate the discrimination resulting from the exemption regulations and awarded the applicant foundation the sum of €44,400 in respect of pecuniary damage and €10,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage. On 5 October 2017, relying on Rule 80 of the Rules of Court, the Government submitted a request for revision of the judgment delivered on 20 June 2017. The Government primarily requested that the sum of €44,400 awarded in respect of pecuniary damage be reduced to €23,300.

The Court (Lemmens J dissenting) rejected the Government’s latest application. The actual amount of electricity bills issued to the date of filing the observations on just satisfaction could reasonably have been known to the Government before delivery of the judgment on just satisfaction [13]. Moreover, following the adoption of the judgment on the merits, the Court had invited the Government and the applicant foundation to submit their observations on just satisfaction in writing within six months; however, instead of submitting relevant current electricity bills the Government produced bills for the period from 5 January 2007 to 19 December 2007 – and, on that basis, the Court made its own calculation. There was no doubt that the Government could have obtained the necessary information from the electricity provider or asked the company to inform it of any relevant factors relating to the actual electricity costs of the cemevi [14].

The request for review was refused [16].

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "Turkey and Alevism again: Cumhuriyetçi Eǧitim ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfı" in Law & Religion UK, 19 February 2019, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2019/02/19/turkey-and-alevism-again-cumhuriyetci-e%c7%a7itim-ve-kultur-merkezi-vakfi/

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