Two main organizations lead the program: the Centre for Democracy and Peace Research (CDPR) and Izmir Solidarity Academy (Izmir Dayanisma Akademisi – IDA). The Municipality of Izmir, Municipality of Karşıyaka and the Izmir Bar Association supports the project, which builds on already existing relations between these organisations and puts in practice their common inspirations.
The CDPR is a registered charity established in London in November 2017. It was founded by academics who live in the UK, in response to the rise of authoritarianism in Turkey and the crackdown on freedom of expression. It supports the production and dissemination of critical knowledge and encourages mutual learning between academics and other social actors, with the aim of strengthening civil society confronted to multiple attacks against human rights, democracy and justice. In 2018-2019, the CDPR conducted a large-scale protection grant program in partnership with Front Line Defenders, which offered emergency support to academics and human rights defenders at risk for their commitment to human rights and freedoms in Turkey. Since April 2019, the CDPR has been leading a capacity building program to support eight solidarity academies in different cities of Turkey, including the Izmir Solidarity Academy. These structures benefit from training programs and small grants aiming to help them to develop specific projects and enhance their sustainability.
Izmir Solidarity Academy (IDA) was founded by a group of academics who signed a petition demanding peace and consequently faced state repression in 2016. It aims to raise voices against the repressive and authoritarian practices of the state. To this aim, IDA has organized open public seminars, panels and meetings in order to nourish and disseminate critical thoughts and knowledge in solidarity with many civil society organizations, Izmir Bar Association and various other human rights defenders/organizations. In 2019, IDA completed its institutionalization process as a registered non-profit association under the name of ‘Izmir Solidarity and Scientific Research Association’ which was supported by the core-funding program of European Endowment for Democracy with. Within the scope of this program, IDA has been supporting employees of civil society organizations and social workers of municipalities to improve their skills and knowledge. IDA enjoys strong local networks with knowledge of the local dynamics in Izmir and a critical capacity to run local projects.
While the Izmir Centre for Right to the City is a new program, it builds on the ongoing collaboration between the Karşıyaka Municipality and the Izmir Bar Association, which is associated to the project. Izmir Bar Association has been working in close collaboration with the Greater Municipality of Izmir and the Karşıyaka Municipality to promote a human rights agenda and develop a participatory approach to urban issues.