Young Civilians for Dummies

Young Civilians, in a short time span, has become the most popular and influential civil society organization cum youth movement in Turkey, distinguishing itself from other movements striving for similar causes.

Opposing to all kinds of military intervention into politics, Young Civilians aims to establish a liberal democracy in Turkey that is based on human rights, civil liberties, rule of law, tolerance and justice.

Young Civilians is a diverse group, both secular and religious with a variety of political affiliations (such as liberals, leftists, feminists, environmentalists, democrats), coming from different ethnic and religious backgrounds (such as Turks, Kurds, Muslims, seculars, Jews, Armenians, Alawites) who are drawn together by their passionate belief in democracy and by the liberal-democratic outlook they share.

Standing against any kind of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or way of life, Young Civilians condemns all forms of discursive or physical violence that can arise from or be the cause of such stigmatization, exclusion or degradation of persons.

Based on this value given to human rights, Young Civilians cannot be categorized with a single identity politics or ideology. Rather than taking a stance as the norm or the ideal, Young Civilians remains flexible in taking position in the face of injustices against different groups of people, by placing its common conscience at the center of its actions. Thus, Young Civilians can not only be seen as standing by the side of women banned from entering university because of wearing the hijab, but also as supporting the rights of a transsexual woman, who is ostracized for her anti-militarist statements.

Organizing protests, marches, campaigns, local and international meetings and conferences; Young Civilians’ most important “weapon” is political satire and the use of popular culture. Its language and style sets Young Civilians apart from previous and current civil movements, making it one of a kind as the most prominent youth group in Turkey.

Starting off with fifty people in 2007, Young Civilians has built a network of ten thousand followers online and two hundred active members, regularly contributing to the actions of the movement. Receiving personal donations from a variety of people, Young Civilians has been supported by more than five hundred donors up to now. The Prime Minister of Turkey acknowledged Young Civilians as one of the leading organizations contributing to the democratization of Turkey in his inauguration speech in 2010 and expressed his gratitude for the contributions of the organization in one of his press releases. Young Civilians has also featured in national and international media including The New York Times, Sky News, BBC, Guardian, Der Spiegel, Deutche Welle, Al Jazeera Englishand Voice of America.