Who are we?


The Association of Bridging Peoples has been set up to establish public solidarity and friendship between peoples on the basis of equality, justice and freedom.

We consider ourselves a solidarity group rather than nongovernmental organisation. We do not hold back us from politics. This is because we do not separate life from politics and we are on the side of life.

We strive to build a public space for the politics of friendship, striving for a society free of hate, fear, isolation, conflict and enmity towards one another. We work on a voluntary basis and believe in collective effort, without seeking parochial interests.

We have been working for/with refugees since Turkey in general and Izmir in particular have become major destinations for people escaping war and insecurity in their home countries. Since day one, we have never turned our back on any refugee who were met.

The Association of Bridging Peoples is not in the business of preparing ‘projects’ for the United Nations (UN) or the European Union (EU). We think the conventional ‘project’ approach is conducive to quasi professionalism and undermines the spirit of voluntary work. Voluntary work enables us to escape the trap of market relations and protects us against the degeneration of our work into a market good. We do not accept any monetary donation from any state(s) or national or international institution. We value independence and the capacity to question received wisdom. We carry out our work with small voluntary donations and membership fees.

Our Association includes a large health group consisting of nurses, midwives, dentists, health-care workers, dietitians, psychologists and doctors; a field group that combes the streets and neighbourhoods; a translation/interpretation group with experts in Arabic, Kurdish and Farsi; and an art and culture group that organizes events for adults and children. We have carried out a wide range of activities in different neighbourhoods and with the participation of hundreds of volunteers. People from different professions and backgrounds contribute with their labour. Our volunteers also include musicians, actors, lawyers, teachers, students, workers, unemployed people – and most importantly refugees. We hold no executive committee meetings. Activities are organised and run through public meetings open to all. Membership is not a necessary condition for attending the public meetings. Everybody has equal voting rights – irrespective of membership status. Every person contributes what they can, without having to compromise on who or what they are.

We believe in solidarity – not in charity. In fact, we think charity is dysfunctional because it is momentary and its reach is person-specific. It also creates a culture of dependency and conditional on the will of the wealthy or powerful. It may not be dispensed correctly all the times. It cannot substitute for collective social, economic and political responsibility or for public goods. It can only have a complementary function. Therefore, we have always called on goverment and officials to carry out their duties. For each field work and health intervention, we have written detailed reports and submitted them to the governor’s office, health directorates, public health directorates, and AFAD. We have submitted petitions and held face-to-face meetings. We have produced the information of the street, informed the public and democratised the production and dissemination of information.

Solidarity corresponds to rights-based struggle. It is not limited to provision of health care, food or clothing. It is also about including the refugees and acting together with them. Solidarity precludes conceptions of the refugees as helpless victims and requires support for their voice and politics. It involves participation into the fight they lead for their rights. It precludes incorporation into the state(s)’ vertical politics of command. It means questioning the political consequences of state actions.

We embrace solidarity as the ‘politeness of the oppressed’ and as the oldest and most precious institution of humanity.

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