Domestic
Lawyers of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan have called upon the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to contact Turkey's Ministry of Justice to demand and ensure that the authorities take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to the Imralı prison where Öcalan is imprisoned. The lawyers have also demanded that Turkish authorities allow them as well as family members to speak with Öcalan on the phone.
Residents of the Karakurt village in the eastern province of Kars have been for years fighting against a dam project preparing to flood their houses. However, their efforts have gone in vain. They have been asked by the local governor's office to evacuate their houses despite the coronavirus outbreak.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew to express his good wishes for Easter. Trump and Bartholomew were scheduled to meet in May, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting has been postponed to next year.
Istanbul Airport will be opening a third runway in June, making it the second airport in Europe to function three independent runways. The third runway is expected to lower taxi times and increase the number of flights that can land and take off hourly.
Turkish news anchor Fatih Portakal assured his audience April 16 that he would continue to deliver the news despite the fine of a three-time cancellation of his news show. Portakal was fined for his criticism of the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some 400 Turkish trucks, most of which are loaded with vegetables and fruits, have been stuck at a border gate between Turkey and Iran since Ankara stopped traffic flows with its neighbor in the wake of its severe coronavirus outbreak. Drivers have said that they are constantly being threatened by unknown assailants who are stealing the deliveries in the trucks.
Firefighters in the southern province of Muğla have used CPR on kittens to bring them back to life after a fire erupted in a container used by a supermarket. "When we saw that the kittens were back to life, we were so happy. There's nothing more beautiful than a living being holding on to life after nearly dying," one of the firefighters said.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has blasted the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government's decision to build one of its two recently-announced pandemic hospitals on the site of Istanbul’s Atatürk airport, alleging that the damage caused to the runways amounts to $2 billion. “Two long runways have been broken, and thus have been brought to a state in which they can no longer be used," said CHP Istanbul deputy Özgür Karabat.
Istanbul Municipality demolished illegal construction carried out by Turkey’s Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, daily Cumhuriyet reported April 14. Meanwhile, pro-government journalist Ersoy Dede claimed that the construction was only a gazebo, and so its removal could not be called demolition.
Former legislation that was dismissed by Turkey’s Supreme Court in 2019 was voted back into effect, allowing the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) to layoff academics for conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization. “The concept of ‘propagating a terrorist organization’ is the most commonly used tool to limit freedom of speech in Turkey,” said an opposition lawmaker.
The remains of a PKK militant have been delivered to the family three years after his death. The family received their son's body in a PTT cargo package.
The judicial reform package of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will allow courts to fine social media portals instead of individual users. The new law will allow officials to carry out on-location inspections into hosting service providers by officials from Turkey's Information Technologies and Communications Institution (BTK), according to daily Sözcü.
Halis Bayancuk -- believed to be ISIS' most senior operative in Turkey -- was re-arrested on April 9, upon an appeal of prosecutors, just hours after a court ruled to free him. The re-arrest order came after the decision to release Bayancuk caused an uproar among Turkish citizens.
Twitter has exploded after a hint that one of the main characters of the new Turkish series Netflix Aşk 101 (Love 101) will be LGBT. Twitter in Turkey on April 8 headed the hashtag #netflixadamol (which translates as "Netflix, be a man").
Thousands of prisoners are soon set to released over fears of the novel coronavirus spreading through jails. However, bus operators have turned this into an opportunity, demanding outrageous prices from them, reaching as high as 1,200 liras ($188) for one-way ticket. Some of the inmates who could not afford to pay such prices applied to jail management officials regarding this issue, but they have been told: “You are on your own.”
Editor's Pick
Soner Çağaptay and Raffaella A. Del Sarto write: The EU often praises itself as a promoter of democracy and regional stability by highlighting the power of its enlargement process to include new members in the “neighbourhood.” Yet in the case of Turkey, its ill-conceived policies may well have contributed to the opposite. A clumsy EU has repeatedly gotten its policy toward Turkey wrong, often inadvertently helping Erdoğan at key points during his rise while creating preventable tensions with Ankara.
Politics
The German government has said that the Erdoğan regime has in recent years increased its support for Milli Görüş, an Islamist group monitored by German intelligence services due to alleged extremist leanings. In its response to a parliamentary question, the German government has also emphasized the links between Milli Görüş and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The ruling AKP has turned down the opposition's demand for budget discussions to be aired live on the official channel of parliament, called TBMM TV. The opposition deputies have said that these talks need to be conducted in a “transparent” manner as it concerns the people, with a CHP lawmaker saying that Turkey has not experienced such a “dark period” in its history before.
An employee of the United States’ Istanbul consulate was handed five years and two months in prison on charges of aiding the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. The court did not arrest Nazmi Mete Cantürk, meaning he will be free pending appeal.
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar has said that the party condemns extremists' abuse of Islam to justify their violent actions, but also slams France's treatment of Islam in a row about cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Many prisoners in Turkey, particularly political prisoners, are held in facilities hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from their families, making it very difficult for visitation. Requests by prisoners for transfer to a closer penal institution are now being rejected by the authorities on account of the coronavirus.
As coronavirus cases surge in Istanbul, Governor Ali Yerlikaya said that he can be a "scapegoat" if anyone's looking for someone to blame. The governor also said that he has been working closely with Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu. “My job is not politics, it is service. To that end, I am continually in contact with İmamoğlu. You should know that we are working very well [together]. There is no problem whatsoever,” he said.
President Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint with Turkish authorities against prominent Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders saying that he had insulted him on social media. "Even though the crime was committed directly against the person in the presidential seat, the value that is being violated is the state's political government structure," Erdoğan's lawyers said.
Turkish police have apprehended seven ISIS militants who were preparing for attacks in the capital Ankara in the latest round of operations against the jihadist group. According to authorities, the militants were seeking to attack Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations and Nov. 10 ceremonies that are held each year to commemorate Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu right in his case against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While Turkish courts ruled that Kılıçdaroğlu "attacked Erdoğan's personal rights" in two separate speeches in 2012, the ECHR ruled that the country violated the main opposition leader's freedom of expression.
A coal thermal power plant in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir is predicted to make more than 11 million people ill over the course of 35 years, a health impact report for the project revealed. The Right to Clean Air Plaform reported that the pollutants from the Alpu Coal Thermal Power Plant will spread to 24 provinces and destroy local farming land.
A group of miners from the Central Anatolian district of Ermenek set off once again on their march to demand unpaid wages, only to be met with a gendarmerie blockade on Oct. 26. In a video showing the miners' exchange with officers, one of them is heard saying "We are angry. We are hungry, that's why we're yelling. You can't yell!"
One of downtown Istanbul's last remaining green spaces was rezoned to allow construction despite the protest of locals. Also designated as an emergency meeting point, the green space was permitted for the construction of a 10-story building.
Turkey's southernmost province of Hatay was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 and authorities said that two militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were nabbed following the blast. Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan said that the two militants were a part of a group of four who had flown from the Syrian town of Manbij to the Amanos Mountains in Hatay using paramotors.
A report prepared by a number of civil society organizations regarding trials in Turkey prosecuting conscientious objectors to mandatory military service in the country has influenced the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to pressure Turkey on recognizing the right to conscientious objection.
President Erdoğan and the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar on Oct. 26 voiced their support for a two-state solution on the divided island of Cyprus. "We believe a two-state solution must now be brought to the table with a realistic proposal," Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also said that he would visit Turkish Cyprus on Nov. 15 and expressed his desire to have a picnic at Varosha.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 78 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed and dozens more were injured in Russian airstrikes on a military training camp in Idlib. Those targeted were in a camp belonging to Faylaq al-Sham, the monitor said, adding that it was the deadliest attack since the ceasefire came into force in March.
The second indictment against human rights defender and businessman Osman Kavala presents no new grounds to justify his detention and is politically motivated, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged the UNESCO to release its report on the restoration works in the iconic Hagia Sophia as soon as possible. Lavrov said that for Russia Hagia Sophia is particularly valuable from the spiritual point of view.
Economy
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that the economy is growing despite the tumbling Turkish Lira. The lira weakened to a record low on Oct. 26, hit by investor unease over the central bank's decision last week to keep its policy rate on hold and various sources of geopolitical concern. Strains in ties with the United States, a row with France, a dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime rights and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh have all unsettled investors.
Turkish monthly inflation was almost four times greater than the official rate in September, according to a new model developed by a group of academics and researchers. According to the independent Inflation Research Group (ENAG)'s first published finding, consumer prices in September rose 3.61 percent from the previous month, compared to the official Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK)'s calculation of 0.97 percent increase.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
Urban Beat
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.