Coronavirus
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has held a video conference with ministers, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, to discuss the recent developments on the country's struggle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Soylu told Erdoğan that the use of public transportation in 15 metropolises decreased by 80 percent between March 1 and 23.
Ankara recently deferred tax payments for some businesses due to “force majeure" as part of its initiative to soften the blow of the coronavirus on the economy. Force majeure is a legal term that refers to an unforeseen “superior force,” in this case the coronavirus, that interrupts someone’s ability to fulfill legal or financial obligations.
A judiciary reform package that was fast-tracked to allow precautions against coronavirus in prisons would allow for sex offense sentences to be reduced. Sex offenders would have to spend only 67 percent of their sentence in prison, down from 75 percent, and would be allowed to spend the rest of their sentence on probation.
Turkish Football Federation head Nihat Özdemir came under fire on social media after Galatasaray coach announced that he tested positive for coronavirus. Terim was one of the most vocal figures in the Turkish football scene about the need for the suspension of the league. Before the suspension decision was announced on March 19, the matches were played without fans in attendance.
Suspicious death of a man on March 17, who worked at the ticket booth of Istanbul's iconic Dolmabahçe Palace, raised questions whether he died of novel coronavirus and the state concealed the facts. The main opposition Repubican People's Party (CHP) deputy Utku Çakırözer submitted a number of parliamentary questions to Vice President Fuat Oktay asking why dead man's coworkers were pressured to remain silent about the case.
Rapid coronavirus test kits, which were imported from China, have been released and are now in use, Turkey's Health Ministry announced in a memo to press last weekend. Rapid tests reveal the results of whether one is infected with the virus or not in 15 minutes.
Turkey's Interior Ministry issued a notice early on March 24 saying all grocery stores will limit how many customers are allowed in the store premises at the same time, while all buses will be allowed to carry only half their capacity.
Turkish coronavirus researcher Mustafa Ulaşlı, who was previously sacked with a statutory decree (KHK), said that not a single official person has yet contacted him to utilize his expertise on research related to potential coronavirus vaccine. Ulaşlı's comments came after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca earlier said that the ministry wants every kind of information that can be helpful in treating the virus to be shared with them.
Turkey’s death toll from coronavirus rose by seven to 37 as the number of cases surged to 1,529, Health Minister Koca said. He also said that 3,672 tests were carried out within the last 24 hours.
Turkish football club Galatasaray's coach Fatih Terim has announced that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was being treated at the hospital. On March 15, during a press conference, Terim had criticized the Turkish Football Federation for not suspending the league.
Turkey's medical staff sacked with statutory decrees (KHK) have said that they want to help the country fight the novel coronavirus, even if that means putting their own lives at risk. Leaders of opposition parties have also demanded that the government reinstate the sacked medical staff back to their jobs.
Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar ("Kapalı Çarşı" in Turkish), one of the world’s oldest covered markets, has been temporarily closed amid coronavirus precautions.
Hospitals and clinics in Turkey’s capital Ankara have been telling their employees to pack for 10-day shifts, which they think will be the country’s response to a surge in the number of people infected with the coronavirus. Meanwhile, healthcare workers unions urge the Health Ministry to step in to ensure the wellbeing of workers.
The first batch of rapid coronavirus test kits were brought to Turkey from China early on March 23. A cargo plane of Turkish Cargo was sent to Shanghai to carry the first batch of the tests. The plane landed in Istanbul's Atatürk Airport at around 4 a.m.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on March 23 said that Turkey imported a medicine from China which is believed to be effective against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He said that Turkish health personnel have already started to use it to treat coronavirus patients in intensive care units. Koca is believed to be referring to anti-viral drug Favipiravir.
Editor's Picks
Ahmet Murat Aytaç writes: The recent inhumane attack against migrant workers that took place in the Mazıdağı district of Sakarya should be analyzed within the framework of economic oppression. No matter what triggered the assaults, the general tendency in Turkey right now is to deny the ethnic dimension of the conflict.
duvar englis podcasts
In this week's episode, Duvar English Editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel hosts American political scientist Wendy Pearlman to talk about her latest book "We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria," which was recently published in Turkish. Pearlman spoke to hundreds of Syrian refugees, collecting human stories from one of recent history's biggest humanitarian crises.
Politics
A Turkish court has sentenced Halis Bayancuk, who is described as the leader of ISIS in Turkey, to 12 years and six months in jail. Bayancuk, who goes by the name Abu Hanzala, has been detained several times before in Turkey, but only to be freed later because of a lack of evidence or problems involving the charges against him.
Gli the Hagia Sophia cat has fallen ill two months after the site was converted into a mosque and will live away from people in a private room. Caretakers of the 16-year-old cat, who was born at Hagia Sophia, previously warned worshippers to not overwhelm Gli after footage of them taking pictures of Gli with flashes and feeding him unhealthy food emerged on social media.
Islamist cult leader Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü has said that he is ready to name a total of 150 Salafi associations taking up arms as part of their preparations to fight in Turkey. "I've made a list of these associations and in which provinces they are located. If the prosecutors summon me and ask me what I know, I'm ready to name at least 150 of them," a journalist cited Ünlü as saying.
İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener has slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for "giving the youth a massive prison," as she commented on the unemployment figures and the economy. "You gave them unemployment, hopelessness and depression," Akşener said. Your gift to the youth is a country that they don't feel belonging to and that they can't breathe in," she added.
AKP Group Deputy Chair Bülent Turan has praised President Erdoğan for "making" French President Macron tweet in Turkish. "Macron tweeted in Turkish and said that he is ready for dialogue. The name of the man who made a French President tweet in Turkish is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan," Turan said. Erdoğan also responded to Macron's gesture, saying that Turkey intends to listen to all sincere calls and make room for diplomacy.
Turkey has strongly condemned a Greek daily for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın deeming the move "a provocation." Another government official to condemn the headline was Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who said that the headline "will remain as a document of shame" in the history of the Greek press.
The HDP has said that its MYK member Serhat Aktemur was abducted in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır by individuals claiming to be National Intelligence Organization (MİT) members. Aktemur said that the three individuals in question threatened to kill him by saying, "If we see you around, we'll shoot you."
Turkish paraglider Hasan Kaya took to the skies in southern Turkey with a bed pretending to sleep. Kaval has previously attached a metal-framed red leather sofa with wheels and a television to a parachute and took to the skies in Turkey’s southwestern Ölüdeniz neighborhood.
Some 40 medical chambers affiliated with the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) have released a joint statement reiterating their support for the organization. “We are fortunate to have our professional organization that prioritizes and defends the right of public health, and does not compromise when it comes to scientific and free thinking," the chambers said, following MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for the TTB's closure.
Since early summer, forest fires have been raging in the Cudi Mountains in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak amid claims that the blazes erupted due to deliberate military operations in the area. Ecologist Asrın Keleş from the People's Democratic Congress (HDK) said that it was abundantly clear that the fires did not erupt due to natural causes. "We received information that the forests were being shot with gunfire at night,” Keleş said.
A Turkish court sentenced former co-chair of Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Sebahat Tuncel to 11 months in prison on charges of "insulting" the president, because she said Erdoğan was "an enemy of women and Kurds."
Turkey's Court of Cassation, the top appeals court, has found a male employee at fault for using the women's toilet at the store where he was working at. The court rejected the employee's demand for a compensation after he was fired from his job.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has determined that dozens of firms and restaurants in Turkey use fake ingredients in their products to cut down on costs. With the Turkish lira continuing to decline in value as the country experiences a serious economic downturn, some food producers and restaurants are cutting on costs and cutting corners, and deceiving their customers in the process.
Several Turkish citizens have sent petitions to the parliament, raising their concerns about the safety of 5G technology. The parliament's committee on petition has asked the issue to the Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) and was told that Turkey was “working to produce the 5G infrastructure locally.”
Bursts of steam rising from Mount Nemrut have raised concern among locals, amid speculations that the dormant volcano can become active again if triggered by earthquakes. “There are many fault lines arund Mount Nemrut. If these fault lines are ruptured, theoretically a [volcanic] movement can occur in Mount Nemrut. This is always a possibility,” Prof. Dr. Aydın Büyük Saraç said.
Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has called for the reinstatement of his client's deputy status after the Constitutional Court ruled that the former CHP lawmaker's rights were violated when he was dismissed from parliament earlier this year.
President Erdoğan has said that the government is preparing to introduce new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, since "people have not complied with the rules." The virus infections began increasing after Ankara loosened restrictions on public activity, starting in June. Critics have also accused the government of hypocrisy with regards to the measures, pointing out that social distancing measures were being overlooked in several occasions, such as the rallies of the AKP.
Islamic communities that are known to have close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have recently speeded up efforts to establish their own foundations. On Sept. 17, two more such foundations have been established, one of which has close ties to the İsmailağa community, while the other has close ties to pro-government KİHMED.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 18 Turkey was saddened by news that Libya's internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj wants to quit next month. "A development like this, hearing such news, has been upsetting for us," Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that Turkish delegations may hold talks with Sarraj's government in the coming week.
Various rights groups have said that human rights violations recorded in prisons have spiked during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a recent example of the rights violation, the groups said that authorities had confiscated several personal belongings of a group of inmates during their transfer to two newly opened Diyarbakır prisons.
The mother of a murder suspect was found dead with a single bullet to the back of her head on Sept. 17. Her son, a suspect in his girlfriend's death, her husband and the family's attorney blamed her death on TV host Müge Anlı because she had said the mother had "failed to raise a son."
Economy
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Turkish Airlines (THY) observed a drop of almost 65 percent in the number of August travelers compared to the year before. Domestic flights saw a smaller drop of 47.1 percent, while international flights shrank by 75.4 percent, THY said.
Urban Beat
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.
The tomb and gold jewels of a woman dubbed the "Carian Princess" can now be seen in the Aegean province of Muğla's Bodrum Castle. Recovered in 1989, the body is thought to belong to a woman in her 40s.
Turkey's news agenda has focused on "renovations" that resulted in dramatic results, often adding incoherent elements. Most recently, footage of "renovation" in Istanbul's Galata Tower had shown workers drilling into original walls.