Country of Origin Information Report


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Women’s organisations
22.93 An Amnesty International News article ‘Turkey: Shelters not Cemeteries’ stated that:
“At present, the role of women’s rights activists is crucial to ensure that at least a small proportion of women obtain protection – some of these organizations are the:

 Women’s Support and Solidarity Centre in Antalya,

 the Purple Roof Foundation in Istanbul,

 the Women’s Centre (Ka-Mer) in Diyarbakýr,

 the Women’s Solidarity Foundations (KADAV) in Ankara and Izmit.
A worker at an NGO told Amnesty International, ‘Everyone sends women who have experienced violence to us. Everyone. [sic] The government, the police, everyone. We don’t have the facilities to meet the demand’.” [12b]
22.94 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted that “Government officials worked with advocacy groups such as KA-MER, the leading ’women’s organization in the southeast, to hold town hall meetings and set up rescue teams and hotlines for endangered women and girls.” [5g] (Section 5)
22.95 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission to Turkey 11 – 20 February 2008, noted that The Social Services Child Protection Agency (SHCEK) explained that their organization provided support and social assistance to women, children and the elderly in Turkey. It provided services through social centres across Turkey as well as family telephone help-lines and awareness raising initiatives to help those in need. [59] (S11.2)

22.96 The Turkish NGO Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways (WWHR) told the FFM that it cooperated with social services agencies which run community centres throughout the country and provides a holistic human rights education programme for women. The community centres are an important means of support to women from the lower socio-economic strata in Turkish society. [59] (S1.12)

Women’s NGOs
22.97 The UN Human Rights Council: Addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, iits Causes and Consequences, Mission to Turkey, 5 January 2007, noted that:
“There is a dynamic women’s movement in Turkey and many individual women have demonstrated a high level of performance in all walks of life, and yet this potential is excluded from formal politics. The development indicators for women are in dire contrast to the country’s aspirations, its legal and constitutional provisions and its international commitments. Violence against women in the private sphere is systematic and widespread. A nationwide mobilization for the advancement of women - with political will and commitment - is urgently needed to turn promises into reality.” [20d]
22.98 The Stop Violence Against Women website accessed 30 0ctober 2007 stated that, “Nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, play vital roles in articulating and enforcing international human rights standards. NGOs lobby on national and international levels for strengthened human rights standards… As advocates for social change, NGOs have been instrumental in achieving legal reform and have played important roles in advancing ’women’s rights as human rights. Despite their diversity, NGOs can be broadly defined as independent voluntary association[s] of people acting together on a continuous basis, for some common purpose.” [97a]
22.99 The same Stop Violence Against Women website have further noted the six different Women NGO’s listed in Turkey as follows:

Foundation for ’Women’s Solidarity (Kadin Dayanisma Vakfi)

Mithat Pasa Caddesi, No. 10/11 Sihhiye

Telephone: 90-312-430-4005, Email:

Human Resources Development Foundation (Insan Kaynagini Gelistirme Vakfi)

Sira Selviler Caddesi, Kristal Apt. No. 152/3-4 Beyoglu

Telephone: 90-212-293-16-05, Email:
Flying Broom

Büyükelçi Sokağı 20/4 Kavaklıdere, Ankara, Türkiye 06700

Telephone: 90-312-427-00-20, Email:

Fax: 90-312-466-55-61

Foundation for the Support of ’Women’s Work

Istiklal Cad. Bekar Sokak, No: 17 Beyoglu - Istanbul/TURKEY

Phone: 90-212-292-26-72, Email:

Fax: 90-212-249-15-08

Human Rights Association

HRA Headquarters, İHD Genel Merkezi

Tunalıhilmi Cad. 104/4 Kavaklıdere, Ankara, Turkey

Telephone: 90(312)-466-49-13-14, Email:


Arjantin Caddesi 22/10, Kavaklıdere 06700, Ankara, Turkey

Telephone: 0312-467-13-37, Email:

Fax: 0312-468-18-33


Women for Women's Human Rights - New Ways Foundation

İnönü Caddesi, 37/6 Saadet Apt. Gümüşsuyu, 80090, Istanbul-TURKEY

Telephone: 90-212-251-00-29, Email:

Fax: 90-212-251-00-65

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23 Children
Basic Information
23.01 The ‘Child Information Network in Turkey’ website, defines a child as “for the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” [80]
23.02 The Republic of Turkey signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 14 September 1990 and ratified it with the decision of the Council of Ministers dated 9 December 1994, No: 4058. The Convention came into force on 11 December 1994. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in the armed conflict was signed on 8 September 2000 and ratified with the decision of the Council of Ministers dated 16 October 2003, No: 4991. The Optional Protocol came into force on 18 March 2004.
23.03 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2007, published on 11 March 2008, noted that:

“The government was committed to furthering ’children’s welfare and worked to expand opportunities in education and health. Government-provided education through age 14 or the eighth grade was free, universal, and compulsory… On December 1, the government enacted a new law on children that includes language implementing the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction… Child abuse was a problem. There were a significant number of honor killings of girls by immediate family members, sometimes by juvenile male relatives.” [5g] (Section 5)

23.04 The European Commission 2007 Progress report published 6 November 2007 on Turkey noted that “The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has started to develop a national strategy against child poverty. In order to provide the basis for tackling the incidence of street children, a government circular was issued to collect data on children working and/or living on the streets. Seven cities with large numbers of street children have adopted action plans under the new scheme… (p18) The current legislative framework does not tackle the issue of children working on the streets.” [71c] (p53)
23.05 In the NGO Report on Turkey’s Implementation the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography report of 2006, compiled by Ankara Child Rights Initiative, it was stated that:
“Children living and/or working on the streets constitute a highly vulnerable group of children with respect to OPSC related crimes. Recent temporary Committee on street children at the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) revealed that 41,982 children living and/or working in the streets have been provided protection measures by SHCEK. Reports of the temporary Committee also revealed that there is no healthy system of statistics that would help measure the situation of children in Turkey for better policy decisions to be taken.” [80b] (p3)

23.05 The same NGO 2006 report indicated that “Former State Minister responsible for women and children affairs Güldal Akşit indicated that around 37% of children living on the streets are from relatively underdeveloped Eastern and South Eastern Anatolian regions. Overcrowded families with highly limited income and employment opportunities living in one room apartments in these big cities affect children and become another reason for the children to work on the streets to bring additional income.” [80b] (p3-4)

23.06 The NGO 2006 report further noted that “Although there is a new service provision model introduced to help protect the children living and/or working on the streets, there is much more to be done to address the root causes of the problem. It is expected that around 635,000 children are in risk of finding themselves in the streets, thus vulnerable to all sorts of abuse including forced labour, sale, pornography, and prostitution.” [80b] (p4)
Unregistered children
23.07 The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 7 states that ‘The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.’ [91c]
23.08 In a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office dated 14 August 2008 it was noted that:

“Children’s birth registry status can be analysed also in terms of the type of marriage of their parents. Three-fourth of children born to parents with imam marriage (religious marriage) have no birth registry. The proportion of children in this status is 15 percent among parents with both civil and religious marriage, and 10 percent for parents with civil marriage only. It is further observed that non-registry is also more common among children born to parents who were married with such practices as başlık (bridemoney paid to the family of the bride by the family of the groom) and berdel (marriage allowed by families on the condition that one sibling of the groom gets married with one sibling of the bride).” [4j]

23.09 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission to Turkey 11 – 20 February 2008, interviewed a number of sources on the issue of unregistered children. Mrs Pieters the Deputy Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) advised the FFM that in order to register the birth of a child in Turkey, a parent needed to be married. Consequently, individuals who were unmarried would often register their children to married members of their family. Mrs Pieters said that UNICEF was doing an analysis of the Birth Registrations laws which would shortly be published. Also, an awareness raising campaign would be launched jointly with the Directorate General for population under the Ministry of Interior. [59] (S3.15)
23.10 Mrs Pieters also said that when a child was born to an unwed mother it was often placed in an institution, given to a childless family member to bring up, or put up for fostering. Mrs Pieters gave an example of four pregnant girls in an Istanbul prison, who had been told that their babies were stillborn, when the babies had actually been given for adoption. [59] (S3.14)

23.11 On the children born out of wedlock, Mrs Nurdan Tornaci, Deputy Director General and Nilgun Geven, Head of Department for Women’s Branch Department of Services for Women, Children and Society (SHCEK) reported to the UKBA FFM that there was still a certain stigma attached to this issue in Turkish society and that often children assumed to be born out of wedlock were left on the streets. In cases of child abandonment, SHCEK would take in the children concerned and look after them; some may then be fostered or adopted. SHCEK said that every year there were about 500 adoption cases, of which approximately 250 children were abandonment cases, probably born out of wedlock. [59] (S11.19)

23.12 In a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office dated 22 July 2008 it was noted that:
“It is obligatory to register your child at birth in Turkey. However, registration can only be carried out at offices in the provincial capitals (81 cities in Turkey) which can make it difficult for rural communities to register. Notwithstanding this, registration is very high, because communities are aware that they cannot claim benefits for their children unless they are registered. This means that there is a high level of registration overall - 85% - and no difference between registration of girls and boys, or of Sunni Turks and other minority groups such as Roma.
“If a child is not registered at birth, they are registered by the authorities on entering the education system, which means that the majority of children are registered. One problem that remains is the tendency of rural communities not to register children who die, or not to register a younger child given the same name as a dead elder sibling.” [4k]
23.13 The European Commission 2007 Progress report on Turkey published 6 November 2007 noted that “There has been a significant decrease in the proportion of unregistered children compared with 10 years ago. However, the proportion of children under five years of age who were not registered at birth remains high in particular in the East of the country.” (p62) “This creates obstacles for children's subsequent access to health and education services. Official statistics show that the ratio of children who die at birth is still high.” [71c] (p19)

23.14 The European Commission 2007 report noted that, regarding asylum seekers, “The children of applicants for asylum have the right to attend Turkish schools. Primary schools can be attended free of charge. 312 out of 1045 children of asylum seekers at school age are enrolled in education. Awareness among asylum seekers on education opportunities needs to be improved.” [71c] (p64)

23.15 The BIA News Center article ‘Report States 833 Lost Children In Turkey’ published 5 August 2008 reported “Prime Ministry’s Human Rights Directorship (IHB), 7183 children were lost last year, 6350 of these were found and 833 of them are still lost. The provinces with the highest number of lost children were Istanbul, Balıkesir, Bursa, Ankara, Şanlıurfa and Mardin.” [102d]
Age of Consent
23.16 United Nations Statistics Division accessed 25 August 2008 recorded the minimum legal age for marriage is 17 years for both emen and women in 2005. [35c]
23.17 The Office of the Prime Minister, Directorate General of Press and Information, published 24 August 2008 recorded that the legal age for marriage has been raised for both men and women (Article 124). However, under extreme situations and with sufficient cause, both men and women who are over the age of 16 can be married with the permission of the judge. [36f]
23.18 The Child Soldier Global 2004 report states that “National service is the right and duty of every Turk (Article 72). The Military Code provides for voluntary recruitment to some elements of the armed forces at a minimum age of 18, but the government has stated that this is not applied in practice. Other legislation apparently permits the deployment of 15 to 18 year olds in civil defence forces during national emergencies.” [40]
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Customary marriages

23.19 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2007, published on 11 March 2008, noted that:

“Child marriage occurred, particularly in rural, poverty-stricken regions; however, ’women’s rights activists claimed that underage marriage has become less common in the country in recent years. Children as young as 12 were at times married in unofficial religious ceremonies. Families in rare instances engaged in ‘cradle arrangements’, agreeing that their newborn children would marry at a later date, well before reaching the legal age.” [5g] (Section 5)
23.20 In the NGO Report on Turkey’s Implementation the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography report of 2006, compiled by Ankara Child Rights Initiative, it was stated that:
“Prof. Dr. Türkan Saylan, President of one of the leading girls education NGO with more than 90 branches all over Turkey, in one of her recent remarks stated that there are still girl children in some areas who are being sold in marriage for 200 YTL (around € 125) in rural Turkey.” [80b] (p8)
23.21 The same NGO 2006 report further added that “in Diyarbakir (South Eastern Turkey), 12 year-old girl had been kidnapped and been raped by the kidnapper, later she was forced to marry her kidnapper to clean her honour as she was left pregnant. Two years later, her nose was cut off by her father-in-law when she resisted his rape attempt.” [80b] (p8)

23.22 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission to Turkey 11 – 20 February 2008, noted that regarding under age marriages, Mrs Pieters the Deputy Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Turkey said that underage marriages affected particular sections of society including the Kurdish, Roma and Arab communities. Mrs Pieters advised that 99% of such marriages did not get prosecuted owing to cultural stigma. [59] (S3.12)

23.23 The United Nations Development Programme report on Youth of Turkey 2008 notes that “in many cases, child marriage is motivated to a considerable extent by fear that a girl’s family honour will be ruined if her virtue is compromised in any way. The same fear is at the root of the issue of honour killings — a persistent threat to adolescent girls and young and adult women alike especially in rural areas where hundreds of Turkish women die each year by way of reparation for their family’s allegedly damaged reputation.” [35b]
Child Abuse
23.24 In the NGO Report on Turkey’s Implementation the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography report of 2006, compiled by Ankara Child Rights Initiative, it was noted that “Over the years several child abuse and neglect stories have shown that the system of institutionalization of children needs to be reviewed overall and from an OPSC point of view too as overcrowded institutions including orphanages, care centres, boarding schools, reformatories, mental health institutions, and the like.” [80b] (p4)
23.25 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2007 report Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2007 noted that “Child abuse was a problem. In 2005 police arrested over a dozen nurses, caretakers, and other employees of the Malatya state orphanage in connection with an investigation into the alleged torture and abuse of children at the institution. On December 26, a Malatya penal court sentenced nine suspects to one ’year’s imprisonment for negligence and misuse of authority. A second case against five other employees continued at ’year’s end.” [5g] (Section 5)

23.26 International Helsinki Federation Annual Report on Human Rights Violations (2006): Turkey, 8 June 2006 noted that “Mistreatment of children was also reportedly common in state orphanages, as indicated also by a public scandal coming out with the broadcasting of images of children subjected to severe and group violence by their care takers in an orphanage in Malatya in October.” [10a] (p441)

23.27 The European Commission 2007 Progress report on Turkey published 6 November 2007 stated that “The way in which children are treated in institutions remains a cause for concern. Efforts are required to review the existing standards of care and protection of the Social Services and Child Protection Agency and to improve the capacity of its staff. Efforts to encourage foster parenting as an alternative to institutional care need to be intensified.” [71c] (p19)
23.28 The Turkish Daily News reported in ‘Two more caretakers arrested in Malatya’, dated 10 November 2005, that: “Two more caretakers were arrested by the court as part of an investigation into a scandal at the Malatya Childcare Center, reports said on Wednesday. This increases to seven the number... The Interior Ministry launched an internal investigation into Malatya Governor Osman Derya Kadıoğlu. Interior Minister Abdülkadir Aksu also sent an inter-departmental circular to the local ’governor’s offices of 81 provinces, warning officials that such mistreatment of children protected by the state should never happen again.” [23b]
23.29 A BIA 2 article, published 31 July 2006, ‘Turkey: Children may be tried under New Anti-Terror Law’, noted that:

“Initiative representatives Lawyer Seda Akco and Mustafa Ruhi Sirin have written to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and main opposition Republic Peoples Party (CHP) chairman Deniz Baykal this week, asking them to take the law to the Constitutional Court for it to be abolished due to an article that allows children above the age of 15 being tried by High Criminal Courts for TMK offences... The new law allows all children above the age of 15 to be put on trial at High Criminal Courts in cases which involve TMK offences.” [80c]

23.30 In the NGO Report on Turkey’s Implementation the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography report of 2006, compiled by Ankara Child Rights Initiative, it was noted that:
“There is no sound data regarding child pornography in Turkey. One reason of this failing is that there is no specific legal provision on child pornography. [In] The new Turkish Penal Code, there is a section called Obscenity Article 226(3) dealing with limited issues of child pornography. It is estimated that child pornography mostly happens on internet in Turkey. There are several problems in combating child pornography, especially on the Internet and mobile phones.” [80b] (p6-7)
23.31 The same NGO 2006 report further added that “One example of a girl child sex worker reveals society’s perception in this matter: ‘I went to complain to the police about an incident where I was hitchhiking for prostitution and my client slit my throat. The police told me that I am an indecent woman and the man I was complaining about is a reputable businessman. I never go to the police again!’” [80b] (p7)
Child Labour
23.32 The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989, entry into force 2 September 1990, states under Article 32 that:
“1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the ’child’s education, or to be harmful to the ’child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

“2. States Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the implementation of the present article. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of other international instruments, States Parties shall in particular:

“(a) Provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment;
“(b) Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment;
“(c) Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of the present article.” [91c]
23.33 In the NGO Report on Turkey’s Implementation the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography of 2006, compiled by Ankara Child Rights Initiative, it was stated that, “Child labour in all circumstances until 15 years of age is prohibited in Turkey. However, a recent report estimated that there are around 3,850,000 working children in Turkey. 511,000 of them amongst children between 6-14 years of age and 469,000 of them registered working children between 12-14 years of age.” [80b]
23.34 The European Commission 2007 Progress report published 6 November 2007 noted that “With respect to ’children’s rights, efforts to combat child labour have continued. A child labour survey revealed a decrease in the proportion of working children, from 10.3% in 1999 to 5.9% in 2006.” (p18) “Child labour is still widespread in seasonal agricultural work and on the streets. Shortcomings remain in the labour law and its implementation, and the national resources allocated to tackle child labour are insufficient.” [71c] (p19)

23.35 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission (UKBA FFM) includes information regarding Child Labour for Children obtained from interviews with a number of sources. Mrs Pieters the Deputy Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told the FFM that while the child labour laws officially covered the whole country, agricultural regions were effectively exempt from the provisions. There were no legal grounds or other means available to ensure that children who were registered in schools regularly attended them and did not instead go out to work in the fields. [59] (S3.1)

23.36 Mrs Pieters mentioned that, especially in the rural areas, workers were employed on a family ‘clan’ basis whereby older family members obtained employment for their families through a verbal contract with an employer. As a consequence employers could not be held legally responsible for any under age child working. [59] (S3.2)
23.37 Mrs Pieters said that figures released in April 2007 by the Turkish Statistical Institute with the support of the International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour, indicated that 958,000 children aged between 6-17 were engaged in some form of economic employment/activity in 2006. Of these, 120,000 were not attending school. She also said that the first survey on child labour in 7 years showed that longer years of schooling and the decline in the importance of agriculture as a source of employment had caused a marked reduction in child labour. In rural areas, according to this survey, child labour had declined by 50% between 1999 and 2006. Mrs Pieters also said that the number of children working in agriculture had gone down because of the modernisation of the agricultural sector and the fact that families have moved away to urban sectors. [59] (S3.4)
23.38 When asked by the UKBA FFM about the prevalence of child labour, Ms Douglas-Todd, Resident Twinning Advisor, Independent Police Complaints Commission Project Team, said that this was reported to be widespread in Van, but even more so in Istanbul and that police ‘turn a blind eye’. [59] (S18.8)

23.39 Regarding children employed in the urban sector, Mrs Pieters the Deputy Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told the mission that number of children engaged in economic employment/activity in this sector had fallen from 478,000 in 1999 to 457,000 in 2006. However, there had been an increase in the number of children employed aged between 6 and 14 from 109,000 to 116,000. The statistics further indicated that out of the total number of children in employment, 392,000 were engaged in agriculture, 271,000 in industry and 294,000 in trade and other services. However these figures did not take into account children who took responsibility for domestic tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping and care of siblings or older members of the family. According to the 2006 survey 53% of girls and 33% of boys carried out house hold chores but as girls got older they were more likely to continue with domestic chores than boys. [59 FFM] (S3.5)

23.40 The NGO 2006 compiled by Ankara Child Rights Initiative states that “Although problem of children in agricultural sector are being addressed more and more, there are still report of abuse of economically disadvantaged segments of the society by brokers who hire children between 12-16 years of age from their families in Eastern and South Eastern Turkey to work in Western Northern parts of Turkey mostly during summer months. These children not only are exposed to forced hard labour in fields but also to all forms of abuse including sexual.” [80b] (p6)
23.41 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2007, published on 11 March 2008, noted that:
“There are laws to protect children from exploitation in the workplace; however, the government did not effectively implement these laws. The use of child labor was particularly notable in agriculture, carpentry, the shoemaking and leather goods industry, the auto repair industry, small-scale manufacturing, and street sales… The law provides that no person shall be required to perform work unsuitable for their age, gender, or capabilities, and the government prohibits children from working at night or in areas such as underground mining. The law prohibits school-aged children from working more than two hours per day or 10 hours per week.” [5g] (Section 6)

23.42 The USSD 2007 report also tnoted that “The Ministry of Labor and Social Security effectively enforced these restrictions in workplaces that were covered by the labor law, which included medium and large-scale industrial and service sector enterprises. A number of sectors are not covered by the law, including small-scale agricultural enterprises employing 50 or fewer workers, maritime and air transportation, family handicraft businesses, and small shops employing up to three persons.” [5g] (Section 6)

23.43 The NGO 2006 report compiled by Ankara Child Rights Initiative stated that “Due to economic hardships, child labour is being used as cheap labour in parts of Turkey. For example recently Food Processing Trade Union branch in Erzurum (Eastern Turkey) reported that number of children working is increasing as a source of cheap labour.” [80b] (p6)
23.44 The USSD 2007 report also noted that “An informal system provided work for young boys at low wages, for example, in auto repair shops. Girls rarely were seen working in public, but many were kept out of school to work in handicrafts, particularly in rural areas… Small enterprises preferred child labor because it was cheaper and provided practical training for the children, who subsequently had preference for future employment in the enterprise.” [5g] (Section 6)
23.45 The BIA News Center on 15 May 2008 reported in an article, ‘School Principle Beats and Injures 12 Students’ that:

“A school principle beats up 12 students for not cleaning the school garden by hitting their hands with a big pair of compasses. The students are hospitalized and the principle is suspended until the investigation is completed. The incident happened in Silifke, a district of Mersin in the eastern section of the Mediterranean region of Turkey.” [102a]

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