Human Rights
An investigation into an attack on a 74-year-old man in the province of Çanakkale has been dropped after the provincial government and prosecutor determined that he was not attacked due to speaking Kurdish, contrary to the man's statement.
City municipalities alongside a variety of trade associations and other organizations are slated to sign an “emergency assistance hotline” protocol for the purpose of preventing violence against women.
The Syrian Association for Citizens' Dignity (SACD) has republished a report describing the violence experienced by Syrians forced to return to regions of the country under the control of the regime of President Bashar al Assad. People interviewed in the report said that they had to pay bribes to ensure some of their most basic needs.
18 lawyers from the lawyers associations in Turkey were convicted of terror charges in March of this year, with their collective sentences totaling 159 years. The convictions were appealed, but rejected for the six lawyers who were sentenced to less than five years in prison.
It was ruled that philanthropist Osman Kavala would continue to serve pre-trial detention in his third hearing on Oct. 8. He faces life in prison if he is convicted on charges of "attempting to overthrow the government."
Nineteen-year-old seasonal laborer Şirin Tosun, who was attacked in the northwestern town of Adapazarı for speaking Kurdish, passed away after 50 days of hospitalization.
Veteran journalists Ahmet Altan (L), Mehmet Altan (C) and Nazlı Ilıcak are seen in this file photo.
Two veteran Turkish journalists will remain in prison, an Istanbul court ruled, as the next hearing of the trial was set to be held on Nov. 4. The journalists are being tried over their alleged links to the 2016 coup attempt.
Supporters of the jailed businessman, philanthropist and civil society activist Osman Kavala met at Istanbul's Cezayir Restaurant (which is owned by Kavala) on Wednesday to celebrate his 62nd birthday, which coincided with the 701st day Kavala has spent behind bars. Critics have blasted the criminal charges against him as ludicrous.
Activists say that the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe's initiative to prevent violence against women in Turkey, and other laws concerning the issue are not being properly enforced. According to the Federation of Women's Associations' president Canan Güllü, nearly 50 percent of women that are murdered are in the possession of a restraining order.
The families of the victims of the most deadly suicide attack in Turkey's history are suing the country's Minister of Internal Affairs on the grounds that state institutions were at fault for being unable to prevent the attack. However, an administrative court decided that the state was not in fact at fault and ruled that the families should pay the ministry's legal fees.
Turkey's Ministry of Justice has presented an initial draft of the government's judicial reform package to the opposition, with which Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül says includes an amendment to anti-terror legislation that will include additional protection for freedom of expression. However, legal experts who have defended a number of journalists say that this is not the case.
Former co-mayor of southeastern city Diyarbakır spoke at UN Human Rights Council via teleconference due to the international travel ban imposed on him, calling on the panel to end the oppression.
World leaders gathering for the UN General Assembly should reject the abusive policies of autocratic populists and promote greater respect for human rights worldwide, Human Rights Watch said. Brazilian President Bolsonaro, US President Trump, Egyptian President al-Sisi, and Turkish President Erdoğan are on the list of HRW to be protested.
Legal proceedings are ongoing for six Turkish journalists being tried in a case involving their reporting on emails belonging to current Finance Minister and then-Energy Minister Berat Albayrak that were leaked by the computer hacking group Redhack.
Some provisions of the expected judicial reform package of the government, will enable the government workers dismissed by decree to get their passports back. However, legal experts say these provisions are also technically unconstitutional.
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Namık Tan writes: It is difficult to make sound predictions but a lot will depend on the economy. Similarly the choice for Biden’s running mate could also be a major determinant. However, the most important factor in deciding who will be the next leader of the U.S. will be an invisible virus.
Politics
A Turkish brigadier general reportedly beat one of his subordinate specialized sergeants in Syria. Ali Tilkici, the head of the Specialized Sergeants Federation, said that Brigadier General Ercan Pürsünlü beat the soldier in question in a military unit. MHP deputy leader İzzet Ulvi Yönter commented on Tilkici's claims, saying that the party will follow the case.
Turkey-backed Syrian rebels deployed child soldiers to Libya as part of Ankara's campaign to aid the Tripoli-based government in the war-ravaged country, a report prepared by the Syrians for Truth and Justice said on May 11, adding that he recruitment of child soldiers is ongoing.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has accused the United Arab Emirates of trying to openly attack Turkey. "If you are asking who is destabilizing this region, who is bringing chaos, then we would say Abu Dhabi without any hesitation. They're trying to openly attack us from time to time, but we warned them to not cross the line," he said in response to criticism of Turkey's role in the Libyan conflict.
The European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor has called on the Turkish government to stop removing HDP's elected mayors without court decisions. “Local councils should have at least the possibility to appoint an interim mayor among its elected members!” he tweeted. “Credibility on fundamentals of democracy is at stake.”
Turkey and Russia are still negotiating the terms for delivery of a second consignment of S-400 advanced missile defenses, the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said. “The sale of a new batch of S-400s to Turkey is still on our agenda; it did not fall of our agenda. We are trying to agree on the system's scope, the delivery date and other conditions,” Dmitry Shugaev was quoted as saying by Sputnik on May 7.
Silvia Constanza Romano, an Italian aid worker kidnapped in Kenya in November 2018, was rescued on Saturday in Somalia following an international effort that included the contributions of Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MİT). The identity of the armed group that captured 25-year-old Romano is still not clear.
Haci Bişkin reports: Turkey has prevented the Chinese tech giant Huawei from sponsoring Dalkurd FF, a football team based in Uppsala, Sweden made up of Kurds from the southeastern Turkish province of Mardin, according to the club's chairman Ramazan Kızıl. He also claimed that the Turkish state does not want them to attend European cup matches because of fears over possible encounters with Turkish teams.
A U.S. congressional watchdog group has warned that Turkey’s suspension from the F-35 program "will likely further complicate existing supply chain challenges." "The program has identified new sources for 1,005 parts produced by Turkish suppliers, but the program is assessing the effect of 15 key parts not currently being produced at the needed production rate," the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report on May 12.
Istanbul police have detained a man for attempting to burn the entrance door of an Armenian church in the Bakırköy district. "I burned it because they brought the coronavirus [onto Turkey]," the man was quoted as saying in his testimony.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Andrii Sybiha has slammed the municipality of Antalya's Alanya district for playing the Soviet song Katyusha to mark May 9 Victory Day, while asking "Are Ukrainian tourists unwanted in Alanya?" The envoy also said that the act was in breach of social distancing rules imposed amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Duvar English columnist and renowned writer Ece Temelkuran and politician Ertuğrul Kürkçü are among the advisors council of Progressive International, which aims to mount a fightback against the increasing rise of right-wing populist movements around the globe. In September, pandemic permitting, the council will convene for an inaugural summit in Reykjavik.
Sedat Peker, a well-known convicted crime boss, has said that Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak is trying to "destroy" him, which he is why he left Turkey and currently lives abroad.
Nearly one million households around Turkey had their electricity services cut off when they failed to pay their bills by the end of February, the Energy Ministry said. In addition, nearly 200,000 people were taken to court for their debts, meaning that nearly 2 percent of all of the country's households are unable to pay for electricity services.
The last hospitalized COVID-19 patient was discharged in the breakaway Turkish Cyprus. The government in Northern Cyprus closed borders mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Istanbul Municipal Council's members from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have significantly decreased the municipality's resources despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, prompting criticism from Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu for being politically-motivated. "I should underline that these decisions will go down in history. This is wrong during the pandemic period," he said.
The US Senate passed a bill on May 14 to direct President Donald Trump to sanction China over its treatment of Uighur Turks in its northwestern region of Xinjiang. The bill is on its way to the House of Representatives, which Republican Senator Marco Rubio said could pass it "as soon as tomorrow."
A man suspected of carrying out attacks on Turkish-owned businesses in Bavaria was a follower of ISIS, German authorities have said. Police apprehended the suspect on May 8 at a train station after he was caught traveling without a ticket. In his bag, police said they found 10 functional pipe bombs. They later found 13 more pipe bombs and 10 kilograms of explosive chemicals in a car left in a parking garage.
Gennady Peregudov, a senior officer of the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Troops of the Russian Armed Forces' unit in Syria, said that the Russian military disinfected a convoy of Turkish military equipment that entered the territory controlled by the Syrian Armed Forces. According to Peregudov, the Russian military sanitized several Turkish armored vehicles, a tanker and a road train with a bulldozer loaded on it.
Main opposition Deputy Chair Özgür Özel’s parliamentary question about the Presidency’s use of state aircraft was left unanswered as the vice president lacked information and redirected the inquiry to the Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry. The latter noted they had no information on how many aircraft were used by the presidency, or why.
Istanbul prosecutors have charged four pilots, an airline company executive and two flight attendants for their alleged roles in former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan to Turkey and from there to Beirut.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has reportedly executed a Syrian Kurdish man from Afrin after he was deported to Idlib from Turkey. Betal Hesen, 23, was reportedly beheaded eight months after he was arrested in Turkey's border province of Hatay and was deported to the Bab al-Hawa border crossing. “This is what Jabhat al-Nusra is doing to the Kurdish sons, they have beheaded him before there was even a trial on May 2," his uncle said.
Turkey ranked at 154 in a ranking of press freedoms in 180 countries, in decreasing order. Turkey's "the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists," press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) noted in their annual World Press Freedom Index.
Vecdi Erbay writes: Fatih Yokuş is one of the Turkish pilgrims who traveled to Mecca to perform the Umrah, a group of people who have been the subject of controversy as the coronavirus pandemic reached Turkey. Yokuş was indeed among the people who caught the novel virus in Mecca. Now that he fully recovered reflects on his journey.
In 2019, Freemuse registered 33 serious violations of artistic freedom of expression in Turkey, including putting nine artists behind bars. "The Turkish government was the main violator of artistic freedom and primarily executed the violations under the rationales of counterterrorism and protecting the state," the prominent NGO said.
Kurdish singer Şivan Perwer has apologized from Yazidis after his remarks during an event organized by the Mesopotamia Culture Center and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul branch drew criticism. "I talked about how some practices are giving us pain and that how they shouldn't exist among us. If I offended people, I apologize. Yazidis are our dearest and our light," Perwer said on April 29.
Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, who was accused of illegal lobbying, has said that he tried to convince the Turkish government to hire the Flynn Intel Group following the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, but stepped in himself after failing to do so. "I tried to convince the government and at some point I thought I convinced them, but it was a very busy time for them as well and it didn't push through soon enough. So that's when I stepped in and decided to do it myself and it was all very quick," he said.
Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş from the main opposition CHP is more successful in managing the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis than President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to a poll carried out by Metropoll which aimed to reveal people's perceptions on governance during the pandemic. Yavaş ranked third in the list, surpassing Erdoğan, who came in fourth.
MHP deputy Halil Öztürk has submitted a draft bill to parliament that suggests accessing social media with ID numbers. The draft bill added to the concerns in the country on censorship and the freedom of expression, with thousands of people being subjected to fines and jail sentences each year for criticizing the government on social media.
The Istanbul Municipality's Science Committee warned against early relaxing of COVID-19 precautions as the country begins normalization. The municipality criticized the reopening of shopping malls, hair salons and barber shops, and the start of the national soccer league.
Former AKP deputy Burhan Kuzu faces fresh allegations of pressuring the judiciary, as an investigation was launched into him for trying to prevent the enemy of an Iranian drug lord, for whom Kuzu is already accused of pressuring the judges, from being released. The new probe was launched following the testimony of Orhan Ünğan, Naji Sharifi Zindashti's enemy.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has unanimously revoked the authority granted to police officers in accessing personal data, which was introduced with a state of emergency decree during the country's emergency rule, after finding it unconstitutional. The ruling came after the CHP's application.
The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, has said that Ankara risks sanctions from Washington if it activates the Russian-made S-400s. "We made our position quite explicit to President Erdogan, to all the senior leadership of Turkey, and that is the operation of the S-400 system...exposes Turkey to the very significant possibility of Congressional sanctions, both those that invoke the CAATSA legislation, and additional freestanding legislative sanctions," he said on April 30.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Tekin Bingöl has submitted a bill for the honors of three executed revolutionary student leaders, Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan, to be restored. "These three young people struggling for independence, democracy and freedom were hanged despite their rightful demands, such as justice, fraternity and the end to poverty," Bingöl said.
The International Crisis Group, in report titled "Turkey Wades into Libya’s Troubled Waters" has said that Turkey risks being dragged into a war well beyond what it originally signed up for in Libya. "By intervening, Turkey has further enmeshed itself in an escalating conflict with a complex mix of players and stakeholders," the non-governmental organization said.
Luke Frostick writes: The origin story of the Republic of Turkey is well known. Out of the battered husk of the Ottoman Empire, the brilliant general Mustafa Kemal forges a new Turkish nation with republican, secular and modernist ideas at its core. Ryan Gingeras' new book Eternal Dawn tells a more confusing, murky and interesting version of this history.
Human Rights Watch has called on Turkey to investigate claims of enforced disappearances. "Turkish authorities should urgently carry out an effective investigation into credible testimony from a man in pretrial detention that state agents forcibly disappeared him for nine months and tortured him," it said on April 29.
Turkey's new DEVA party has said that notorious white Toros abductions of the 1990s have made a comeback in present-day Turkey with the “black Transporters,” after a new report from Human Rights Watch shined light on the cases of 16 people who have allegedly been forcibly disappeared by intelligence agents since the July 2016 coup.
Newly-released search warrants against Roger Stone revealed a mysterious web of connections, including the Turkish government, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and an individual described as the "Bill Gates of Turkey." The documents showed an attempt to procure damaging information held by the Turkish government.
A recent report by a non-governmental fraud authority revealed Turkey to have the second highest amount of fraudulent business in Eastern Europe. With some 13 cases of fraud in the past year, Turkey lost first place to Serbia, where some 14 cases were recorded.
PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan has said that no one should build their future plans over him during a phone call with his brother Mehmet Öcalan while commenting on a recent rift between the PKK and the KRG. "Kurds need to solve their problems via dialogue. Those who can manage this are the Barzani and Talabani families and our friends in Qandil," he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a statement on the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire a century ago. “Today, we join the global community in memorializing the lives lost during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century," Trump said in a statement on April 24, refraining from using the word "genocide."
Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan has deemed the expenses of municipalities run by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) "trade secrets," upon a parliamentary question by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Alpay Antmen. Antmen, in return, said that he didn't ask about anybody's private trade relations. "It seems that there are financial relations that they want to cover up by calling them trade secrets," he added.
Slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz has asked the Premier League to stop the takeover of Newcastle United Football Club by the Saudi Arabian sovereign fund. "Ms. Cengiz urges you and the board of the Premier League to take all necessary steps to prevent this takeover from happening. It is undoubtedly the right, proper and lawful action for you and the Premier League to take especially in light of the ruthless killing of Ms Cengiz’s fiancé," her lawyers said in a letter.
A bomb on April 28 detonated on an oil tanker in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, which is controlled by Turkish-backed opposition fighters. The attack caused the death of 40 civilians, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said.
The influential businessman, philanthropist and civil society activist Osman Kavala has penned a letter from prison, where he is being kept for over 900 days, saying that he can't keep his optimism due to "the fact that the understanding that doesn't recognize universal legal norms as binding and that uses laws arbitrarily via stripping them of their legal basis has gained legitimacy in the judiciary."
The International Olympics Committee declared that a Turkish athlete's blood and urine samples from the 2012 Olympics had tested positive for doping. Runner Gülcan Mıngır had competed in the 3000 meter steeplechase, records of which were annulled following her results.
Two groups affiliated with the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) on April 20 exchanged fire between each other in Ras al-Ayn in northern Syria. The armed conflict came to an end "with the intervention of our Turkish military units and local elements in the region," read a statement issued by the governorate of Turkey’s southeastern Şanlıurfa province.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said that the U.S. continues to object "strenuously" to Turkey's purchase of Russian missile defense systems and is "deeply concerned" with reports that Ankara is continuing its efforts to make the weapons operational. "We are confident that President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and his senior officials understand our position," Ortagus said.
Turkey's main opposition CHP chair Kılıçdaroğlu has urged the lawmakers to draft a new constitution replacing the current presidential system with a parliamentary system. “The backbone of the new constitution should be a new and powerful democratic parliamentary system,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, while addressing deputies during a special sitting on April 23.
A court has blocked access to an online news article which had reported that the Istanbul municipality demolished illegal construction carried out by Turkey’s Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun in Istanbul's Kuzguncuk neighborhood.
A recent poll revealed that Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are no longer able to rally up enough votes to form a government. While the AKP received 35.8 percent of votes, the MHP was revealed to have 12.2 percent backing. Individually, the AKP has lost 7 percent of its votes since June 2019.
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.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court has found rights violation in the case of three protesters beaten by police during an anti-government protest in the wake of Reyhanlı car bombings in 2013. The court fined the state to pay 12,500 liras ($1,790) to the complainants as compensation and demanded that the prosecutors launch a new lawsuit to determine the identities of the police officers responsible for the violence.
Turkish daily Hürriyet has been subject to criticism over a letter suggesting that the newspaper has been publishing advertorials without placing the disclaimer of 'this is an advertisement.' The newspaper's editor-in-chief Ahmet Hakan has refuted the allegations, saying the letter in question was not printed by Hürriyet itself, but an ad agency, which the newspaper is now reconsidering working with.
Turkish prosecutors have filed another lawsuit against jailed former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş on "terrorism" charges. The prosecutors have cited as "evidence" Demirtaş's speeches conducted between 2012-2016, an interview he gave to Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in 2016 and a complaint filed against him at the Presidency's Communications Center (CİMER).
Turkish prosecutors are seeking up to two years in jail for a Cumhuriyet journalist who had reported that Finance Minister Berat Albayrak purchased a land on the route of the Kanal Istanbul project in 2012 — a year after Erdoğan announced plans for its construction.
Notorious mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı, whose ties to the deep state and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are known, was released from prison on April 16 as part of a bill that allows some 90,000 convicts and arrestees to be freed in a bid to ease overcrowding in jails in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Journalists and political prisoners, however, won't be released since they were excluded from the bill.
Turkish military has postponed conscription of soldiers originally scheduled to start their compulsory military service in April. The new measure means that existing soldiers will have their deployments extended by one month, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has announced.
A decade-long femicide case was settled at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for 50,000 Euros. The government offered a settlement to the family of Ayşe Paşalı for failing to protect the woman’s right to live. The state had ignored Paşalı’s multiple complaints regarding her murderer and had denied her a restraining order against him.
The plight of the refugees in Turkey continues as authorities have been taking them to a coast in Çanakkale to encourage them to cross into Greece. "Police have dropped us here and left. We are out in the open. There's no food or drinks. No one is coming. They told us that we can cross into Greece from where they dropped us, but there's no road here," a refugee told Duvar.
The Dutch government is preparing to introduce compulsory integration tests for Turkish immigrants as of May 1. Experts foresee that it will be quite difficult for people living in Turkey's Anatolian provinces to follow the language and integration courses held in the Dutch embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul, as a result of which there will be a dramatic fall in the number of Turkish nationals arriving in the Netherlands.
Pınar Öğünç writes: The pandemic has sent Turkish journalists, especially local ones, in a dire state. A journalist based in the the Black Sea town of Samsun says that they are expected to turn a blind eye to some events. "Those brave enough to write the news as it is are often treated as lepers. If they engage in criticism, no one will end up printing their work," he told me.
Figen Çalıkuşu, one of the lawyers of Ahmet Altan, has filed an appeal with the Court of Cassation for the renowned writer's release amid coronavirus threat in prisons. Çalıkuşu said in her appeal letter that Altan is 70 years old and his life is at risk.
Deputies from the ruling AKP and its ally MHP have voted against a motion submitted by the main opposition CHP demanding that a parliamentary discussion be undertaken regarding a law to protect medical staff in the face of increasing number of violence cases.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on April 14 repeated an offer to the United States to establish a technical working group including NATO to help solve a dispute over Ankara's purchase of S-400 Russian missile defenses that angered Washington. "We offer the U.S. to establish a technical working group with NATO's inclusion and NATO can lead this technical working group actually. And this offer is still on the table," he said.
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.
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.
A Turkish prosecutor appealed the acquittal of philanthropist, businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala and eight others over their alleged role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests. A 90-page document from the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, dated April 8, called for the Gezi case acquittal rulings to be annulled and for the defendants to be convicted as charged.
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is seeking up to five years in jail for Burhan Kuzu, a former parliamentarian from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), over interference in the judicial process to secure the release of Iranian drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindashti. The indictment said Kuzu had “persistently” called Istanbul judge Cevdet Özcan for Zindashti to be released and suggested to him that the Iranian drug lord should stand trial without arrest.
An Istanbul court has rejected the appeal against the arrest of OdaTV journalists Barış Pehlivan, Barış Terkoğlu and Hülya Kılınç, who were jailed in March over a report covering the funeral of a member of Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT) killed in Libya.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş's doctor has urged his patient to be released from prison, saying his health problems make him vulnerable against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "Demirtaş is among one of the groups that's under highest risk. Prison conditions bear major risks in terms of getting infected," Cegerxun Polat told Duvar.
Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop announced the cancellation of April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day celebrations over the coronavirus pandemic that killed over 600 people in the country. "We had to postpone the celebrations that people would gather on April 23. Let's sing the national anthem at 9 p.m. on April 23 in our homes," Şentop said on April 6.
Grup Yorum's Helin Bölek has died on the 288th day of her death fast in Istanbul, the group said on April 3. Thousand of people took to Twitter to share messages of condolences, including HDP deputies and CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, with many criticizing the government and asking whether their demands were so hard to meet that she was left to die.
Turkey’s first digital strike will be the Global Digital Clime Strike today. Moved to the digital world with the hashtag “this household is on strike” to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the strike is part of the global climate movement that started with 16-year-old Greata Thunberg. Local Turkish activists demand that Turkey adopts the Paris Agreement, becomes carbon-free by 2030 and declares a climate emergency.
A center for Kurdish language and culture research, the Kurdish Institute of Istanbul, received some 1,048 applications within 24 hours of announcing that they would be opening up new spots for their online classes in the Kurmancî and Kurmanckî dialects of Kurdish. The institute will open 27 new classes of about 40 students for the online courses that will start April 15.
Some 40 Kurdish musicians have prepared a video clip showing themselves performing the Kurdish version of the Italian folk song "Bella Ciao" in an attempt to show solidarity with Italy amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Turkish police have urged citizens to stay at home in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by writing "Stay home" using synthetic drugs seized in a narcotic operation. A week earlier, police in Istanbul's Beyoğlu also shared the same message by writing it with seized marijuana packages.
Turkey has sent medical aid packages with Jalaluddin Rumi's words on to Italy and Spain, the countries worst hit by the novel coronavirus in Europe, to help their fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness," read the banners placed on the aid packages.
A group of Turkish firms have collaborated to undertake the domestic mass production of ventilators, which are critical in treating COVID-19. One of these firms is Baykar, a company co-owned by Selçuk Bayraktar, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Over 600 academics and rights activists, including world-renowned intellects such as Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler, have signed an open letter and expressed their solidarity with Turkish food engineer Bülent Şık, who was sentenced to 15 months in jail for revealing the cancer risks posed by toxic pollution in western Turkey. The signature campaign has called upon the Turkish Court of Appeals to nullify Şık's conviction.
Abbas Karakaya writes: While Istanbul's Anatolian-side suburb of Çekmeköy may be adjacent to the city's northern forests, it is among the most lacking in active green areas out of all of Istanbul's 39 districts. Forests and parks in the district are seen as a means of creating tenders and generating wealth. One of the most typical examples of this approach by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led Çekmeköy municipality is the observation point project.
Turkey said on April 5 it would minimize its troop movements in operation zones in neighbouring Syria in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Troops deployed in Syria will now enter and exit operation areas only with the permission of the head of the army, the defense ministry said. "Thus, the movement of staff and troops is minimized, unless it is mandatory," it added.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has called for a humanitarian truce and committed to suspending most military operations in northeast Syria amid the coronavirus outbreak. “We hope that this humanitarian truce will help to open the door for dialogue and political solution and to put an end to the war in the world and Syria,” the group said.
Turkey’s presidential palace spent 4.5 million lira in 2018, a report by the Court of Accounts revealed. Annual spending at the palace totaled 1,648,678,000 lira, 705 million of which was not itemized in the report.
Former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan’s new Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) announced its board of directors March 31, revealing 18 women among the 50 directors and some seven women out of 21 members of its Central Board of Presidency.
There has not been a confirmed case of coronavirus case in Greek refugee camps, but that is a catastrophe waiting to happen, the UNHCR warned. In refugee camps where asylum seekers are poorly fed and suffer from various diseases, the results could be extreme, according to Dimitris Patestos, the head of the Lesbos branch of the Doctors of the World.
A Russian Navy cargo ship transited the Bosphorus Strait en route to Syria on March 24. The Russian Dvinitsa-50 ship, part of Moscow’s auxiliary fleet, was carrying at least three military ambulances along with a shipping container on its deck.
Iran said on March 31 its natural gas exports to Turkey have stopped after an attack on a pipeline inside the neighbouring country, Mehdi Jamshidi-Dana, director of National Iranian Gas Co., told Iran's state news agency IRNA. "The pipeline has exploded several times in the past. It is also likely that the PKK group has carried out the blast," he said.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has criticized the Constitutional Court for issuing rulings belonging to Norway and not Turkey when he was talking about the widespread operations against those determined to be sharing "provocative" social media posts. Some of the rulings issued by the Constitutional Court don't belong to Turkey, they belong to Norway," Soylu told broadcaster A Haber on March 26.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled for a right violation in the case into a protester hit by a gas canister fired by police during Gezi Park protests of 2013, as it also fined the state to pay 10,000 Turkish Liras to the complainant as compensation. It also questioned whether police officers who used tear gas received the necessary training, concluding that the complainant was wounded as a result of uncontrolled use of tear gas.
The Turkish government is going ahead with the controversial Kanal Istanbul project, despite widespread opposition and the current crisis stemming from the coronavirus outbreak. On March 26, it held a tender for the reconstruction of two bridges on the route of the project.
Bosses close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have forced workers to take unpaid leave amid the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country. According to the workers at The Ankara Hotel, which is owned by Cengiz-Kolin-Limak, those who have annual leaves are forced to use them, while those who don't have any leaves are obliged to take unpaid leave between March 23 and April 15.
Twenty two journalists were sent to jail, nine others were detained, while 20 journalists appeared before the courts in Turkey in March, according to a report prepared by CHP MP Utku Çakırözer. The deputy demanded that imprisoned politicians, prisoners and human rights activists are not excluded from the government's plan to release thousands of prisoners.
Turkey's High Election Board (YSK) has annulled the mandate of a mayor from the main opposition CHP on the grounds of his previous conviction of two offenses. Kadir Aydar said that the YSK had previously seen his criminal record while registering him as a mayor candidate and had not raised an objection to his application.
Turkey's Interior Ministry on March 23 appointed trustee mayors to eight more municipalities run by the HDP in the southeastern provinces. Including this latest move, the government has appointed trustees to a total of 40 municipalities won by the HDP since the 2019 March local elections.
Ankara's removal of eight mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) is an example of the government using the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity, HDP Co-Chair Mithat Sancar said in a press conference March 23. He also criticized the government's economic stimulus package for failing to fulfill the needs of healthcare workers.
Children in Turkey were on March 23 shown an animated cartoon depicting the execution of former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes as part of their home schooling during the coronavirus outbreak. Following widespread criticism, the Education Ministry has launched an investigation into the incident.
Tezcan Karakuş Candan, head of the Ankara branch of Turkey's Chamber of Architects, has said that a company has been constructing a wedding hall on the land of the city's iconic Atatürk Forest Farm under the disguise of "landscape design." "Coronavirus opportunists are working. Everyone's concerned on their health, but they are still after land rent and looting," Candan said about the Pusay Tourism Logistic Co. Ltd.
Pro-government businessman Ethem Sancak's brother-in-law Mehmet Akarca was elected as the head of the Court of Cassation on March 24. A total of 332 court members cast votes in the elections that took place under coronavirus precautions. Akarca gained 267 of the votes.
Turkey's Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) has approved an application from Turkish billionaire Aydın Doğan's holding company to start a new investment bank in the country. The bank will be named “D Investment Bank A.Ş.” and will have a starting capital of 200 million Turkish Liras ($28.5 million).
President Erdoğan said on March 18 Turkey would postpone debt payments and reduce tax burdens in various sectors under a 100 billion lira ($15.4 billion) package to support the economy and lessen the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Erdoğan also advised citizens not to leave home unless necessary for three weeks and to minimize social contact.
The former co-chair of Germany’s Green Party Cem Özdemir, who is of Turkish descent, tested positive for the coronavirus, he said in a Tweet on March 19. “I’m okay and no one should worry about me,” Özdemir said in a video he published on Twitter.
The United States believes Russia has killed dozens of Turkish military personnel in the course of its military operations in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on March 17. Pompeo did not specify where or during which incident the Turkish soldiers were killed.
Russia and Turkey cut short their first joint patrol in Syria's Idlib on March 15 after rebels and civilians opposed to a ceasefire agreement cut off a main roadway to block its path. Hundreds of civilians and rebels cut off the roadway, rejecting the presence of Russian forces and what they said was an agreement that did not guarantee their re-settlement after being pushed out by violence.
Turkey's Chamber of Agricultural Engineers head Özden Güngör said that Turkey may face a desert locust outbreak, saying that it's possible for the outbreak to reach the country since it's already in Iraq and Iran. Pointing to the fact that desert locust swarms can consume food enough for up to 40,000 people in a day, Güngör noted that Turkish authorities need to take action. "This is a greater danger than coronavirus. They destroy food sources completely," he added.
The Ankara prosecutor’s office has demanded aggravated life sentences for eight defendants accused of being involved in the killing of the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov in 2016. The Kremlin said on March 5 Russia wants to ensure that both masterminds and perpetrators in the murder are found and brought to justice.
Ninety-six people were killed in Turkey during the month of February, according to a human rights report prepared by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu. The report also stated that 115 people were tortured or improperly treated while in prison, and 227 people were taken into custody at 64 events, including press conferences, meetings, flyer distributions, and demonstrations.
Former Land Forces Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman died at the age of 80 in a hospital that he was receiving treatment late on March 16. Yalman's name made headlines frequently with the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot case, which was marked by top generals accusing each other. Former army general Özkök accused Yalman of formulating the idea of issuing a memorandum against the AKP, while Yalman questioned the portayal of Özkök as being the sole actor in preventing the coup plot.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party has formed a committee to work on the formation of a "democracy alliance," a concept that was brought up in the fourth national congress Feb. 23. "There are many left, democratic and socialist forces outside of the HDP," said Emin Orhan, co-representative for the newly formed committee.
Former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan launched his long-awaited Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) in a ceremony that was marked by emphasis on freedoms in Turkey. "It breaks our hearts to see that our country keeps losing ground in all areas. The people are worried about their future. The people of this country have been saddened and hurt over the past few years. Everything was taken away from them, but they showed patience," Babacan said.
Metin Topuz, a Turkish citizen who worked as a liaison for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Istanbul, faces up to 15 years in prison over being a member of the Gülen movement. Topuz has repeatedly rejected the allegations. "I have no contact with any of the organizations or individuals of FETÖ," Topuz told the court in the hearing on March 10.
İbrahim Gökçek and Helin Bölek, two members of Grup Yorum who have been on a death fast with the demand for the ban on their concerts to be lifted for 268 and 265 days, respectively, were taken to a hospital by police officers, prompting concerns on whether a forced intervention process is underway. "No one can silence Grup Yorum. It's either victory or death," Gökçek said.
Social media users in Turkey have pointed to the ages of politicians after the country imposed a partial curfew on March 21 for citizens over the age of 65 and those with chronic diseases. Dozens of politicians are above the age of 65 in Turkey.
Some 13 actors who were laid off from their jobs at the Istanbul Municipality City Theater were reinstated after three years and seven months. The actors were laid off during the state of emergency declared after the botched coup attempt of July 15, 2016 in an attempt to cleanse state institutions of supporters of U.S-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, Ankara's top suspect for the failed takeover.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd gathered on Taksim's Istiklal Street to mark International Women's Day. Images on social media showed women being dragged by their hair, as well as being battered by police officers. Violence against women and femicides are in dire levels in Turkey, with hundreds of women getting killed each year, in addition to thousands who get beaten by men.
A minibus driver in Turkey’s capital has dressed his vehicle in a surgical mask to draw attention to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The driver covered the bus’ front bumper in a white cloth that he attached to the side mirrors.
Only 30.7 percent of Turks see the Turkish military presence in Syria's Idlib as a "necessity," according to recent survey. Asked if the presence of Turkish military in Idlib is a “necessity,” 30.7 percent of the survey participants said “Yes,” while 48.8 percent said “No” and 20.5 percent chose the option of “I do not have an opinion/No answer.”
The UN has said that actions of Turkey and Russia in Syria may amount to war crimes in a report covering the period from July 2019 to February 2020. The report called on Turkey to investigate whether it carried out an air strike on a civilian convoy near Ras al Ain that killed 11 people last October. Turkey has denied a role in the strike, which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said was conducted by Turkish aircraft.
Over 2 tons and 384 kilos of heroin were seized by Turkey's narcotic police and its Dutch counterpart in an international operation carried out in five countries, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told CNN Türk on March 4.
The president of İGAM, an Ankara-based immigration think tank, has warned against possible cases of Alan Kurdi in the Aegean Sea if refugee crossings are to increase following Turkey's statement that it will no longer stop refugees from reaching Europe.
According to a recent research conducted in Turkey's eight eastern and southeastern provinces, Kurdish parents mostly speak in Turkish with their children. Majority of these parents want Kurdish to be included as a language of instruction in public schools and 72 percent of them want the government to recognize Kurdish as an official language besides Turkish.
Turkey's population has increased by about 1.5 million and reached 83,154,997 citizens in 2019, the Turkish Statistical Institute said. While Istanbul remains the most populated city with over 15 million residents, the metropolis also has a population density of about 27 times the national average. The number of people per square kilometer is 108 nationally, whereas the same figure for Istanbul is 2,987.
A U.S. federal court has denied a request made by Turkey to dismiss a civil suit by protesters who were violently beaten while staging a demonstration against Turkish President Erdoğan in Washington D.C. in 2017, The Hills has reported. “Defendant Turkey points to no indication that an attack by the protesters was imminent,” US District Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her judgement.
Economics
Turkey's private sector held $177.6 billion in foreign debt as of March this year, according to the most recent figures from Turkey's Central Bank. 61.8% of this debt was denominated in dollars and 33.5% in euros, while only 3% was held in Turkish lira.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has appealed to foreign allies in an urgent search for funding, three senior Turkish officials told Reuters. Treasury and Central Bank officials have held bilateral talks in recent days with counterparts from Japan and the United Kingdom on setting up currency swap lines, and with Qatar and China on expanding existing facilities
Turkey’s government is considering a capital injection worth 20 billion lira ($2.81 billion) for three state-owned banks -- Ziraat Bank, Halkbank and Vakıfbank -- so that they can provide loans to businesses hit by the coronavirus epidemic, two anonymous banking sources told Reuters.
Automotive production in Turkey declined by 91 pct in April, according to figures from the Automative Industry Association (OSD) released on Monday. Export figures dropped 33 pct during the first four months of this year in comparison to the same period in 2019.
Turkey has announced additional import tariffs of 30 percent imposed on dozens of goods including household appliances, jewelry, musical instruments and sanitary products.
Excluding swap lines, Turkey's Central Bank's net reserves stood at $13.4 billion in the negative as of the end of April, according to economist and former Treasury Advisor Mahfi Eğilmez. The primary reason behind the foreign currency reserves falling by $28.5 is the sale of the Central Bank reserves, he argued. Eğilmez also said that there has been a decrease of $1.5 billion in foreign currency bank accounts in the past week.
Turkey’s BDDK bank regulator has dropped a trading ban imposed last week on UBS, Citigroup and BNP Paribas because they have fulfilled foreign exchange obligations promptly, according to a BDDK letter sent to banks on May 11. The short-lived ban was one of a few protective measures adopted by the government on May 7 when the Turkish lira tumbled intraday to 7.269 versus the dollar, its weakest ever.
Turkey’s top statistical authority highlighted a historic downfall in the consumer confidence index which was almost halved amid the coronavirus pandemic. While Turkish consumers recorded 91.8 points out of 120 in March, this number dropped by over 40 percent in April, plummeting to 51.3 points.
Uğur Gürses writes: According to the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) World Economic Outlook report, a worldwide recession of 3 percent is anticipated for 2020, while Turkey's economy is expected to shrink by 5 percent this year. Given that the IMF's forecasts are always somewhere between “moderate” and “cautious,” realistic expectations are likely to result in a more negative picture.
According to a recent report by a union of public employees, inflation levels for basic consumer goods in Turkey has reached 29.1 percent compared to last year. Fruit prices have surged by 80.6 percent, while the prices of dairy products and eggs have climbed by 27.6 percent since April 2019.
The Turkish Central Bank revised its year-end inflation forecast to 7.4% for 2020, down from 8.2%. In an online presentation on April 30, Governor Murat Uysal said the coronavirus pandemic brought on "extraordinary circumstances" in which temporary volatility was expected in the bank's financial buffer.
Turkey has room for further fiscal stimulus to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak as its response so far has been “pretty moderate” compared with other countries in similar positions, a Fitch Ratings executive said on April 23. The steps announced by the Turkish government so far are equivalent to around 2% of GDP, he added.
Turkey's Central Bank on April 22 cut its benchmark interest rate by a percentage point to 8.75 percent in order to shore up an economy hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. The bank’s policy committee said in a statement that fallout from the coronavirus outbreak has started to hit trade, tourism and domestic demand so it was “crucial” to ensure markets are functioning and credit is flowing.
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.
A recent survey revealed that almost half of German companies functioning in Turkey are thinking about shrinking their operations. Almost 80 percent of these companies have negative predictions for Turkey's economy following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Turkey's current account balance of payment registered a deficit of $1.23 billion in February, 10 times higher compared to February 2019, according to figures released by the Central Bank.
According to a report prepared by the CHP, over 5 million people were left either temporarily or permanently unemployed amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic .Some 144,690 workplaces were temporarily closed as part of the measures to curb the spread of the pandemic, resulting in a significant increase in the number of people unemployed, the main opposition said.
Turkey's Central Bank has become the largest gold purchaser in the world in January and February of this year, with 41 tons of gold. Turkey was followed by Russia (19 tons), the United Arab Emirates (5.9 tons), Kazakhstan (2.8 tons) and Mongolia (1 ton).
Turkey's gas stations have lost 60 to 75 percent of sales during the COVID-19 outbreak, daily Sözcü reported April 8. Limitations on intercity bus travels have furthered victimized petroleum workers in Turkey, Union of Gas Station, Petroleum and Gas Employers said.
Turkey's exports are expected to drop around 17% in March, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic leads to a decline in trade with some of its biggest partners, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said on April 1. Pekcan also said that exports to Iran declined by 82%, those to Iraq by 48%, to France by 32.5% and to Germany by 14%.
Turkey is not among the non-EU emerging economies in Central and Eastern Europe that has applied for emergency assistance from a $50 billion pool available via the IMF’s rapid financial support facilities, the organization’s European Department Director Poul M. Thomsen said.
A hearing scheduled for March 3 in the case against Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has been adjourned. In a letter to Judge Berman, the bank's lawyer Andrew Hruska asked for more time to obtain a written authorization from Halkbank indicating that he has been given permission by the bank's general manager to enter a plea on its behalf.
Turkey's economy will face a “sharp” contraction in the second quarter of 2020 amid coronavirus outbreak, according to Douglas Winslow, primary analyst on Turkey and director of the Sovereign Group at Fitch Ratings, in London.
Turkey's Central Bank provided more stimulus for the financial sector and economy on March 31, saying it would ramp up government debt buying and offer new pools of cheap funding to stem the fallout from a growing coronavirus outbreak. The Central Bank also extended 60 billion lira ($9 billion) worth of rediscount credits and added more lending options well below its 9.75% policy rate. It said the moves would provide much needed credit to companies and liquidity to government debt markets.
Turkey's economic confidence index fell 5.9% month-on-month in March to 91.8 points, data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) showed on March 27, marking a downturn after five straight months of gains. The confidence in real sector deteriorated the most, going down 7.6%.
Urban Beat
Journalist, translator and author Liz Behmoaras' novel “Lale Pudding Shop” introduces readers to the dreams, states of mind and love stories of the 1968 generation.
Istanbul's contemporary art museum Arter has announced that it will hold virtual guided tours every week, offering an insight into some of its exhibits.
Istanbulites on April 18 reacted with awe at the sight of the Mount Uludağ, which became visible from several kilometers away due to the reduction in air pollution caused by the country's coronavirus weekend lockdown.
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.
An Istanbul court has rejected the metropolitan municipality's request for the cancellation of a concession tender on the rental of unused warehouses at the symbolic Haydarpaşa and Sirkeci train stations. "It is very meaningful to announce this decision, which has been put on hold for months now, at the time of the coronavirus epidemic,” Mayor İmamoğlu said.
During these unusual times, life in the world’s largest cities has come to a screeching halt and Istanbul’s Istiklal Street is no exception. The only people walking on the street, lined with closed shops, are tourists and locals who have urgent business.
Eren Topuz writes: COVID-19 has resulted in a great deal of social distancing and efforts for meeting basic needs at home to the greatest extent possible. To that end, many Istanbulites have turned to baking their own bread at home. According to Istanbul Baker's Chamber, bread sales at bakeries and markets have declined by 35 percent since the outbreak reached Turkey.
Istanbul's legendary Atlas and Rexx cinemas have been shut down amid financial difficulties. They were both popular meeting points of Istanbulites and one of the few movie theaters that were not parts of big chains.
Hagia Sophia was the most popular touristic site of 2019 with a total of 3,727,361 visitors, Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry said. Remodeled as a mosque under the Ottoman Empire, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935. The second most visited touristic destination in 2019 was the Mevlana Museum in Rumi's birthplace, the central Anatolian province of Konya.