Human Rights
The suicide of Sibel Ünli, who was a third-year literature student at Istanbul University, sheds light on the financial challenges that youth face in Turkey. Her social media posts provide an insight on how students are trying to continue their lives in Turkey's most expensive city. "Can I eat with one lira? I have no money left on my cafeteria card," Ünli, who was volunteering for the homeless, said in one of her Twitter posts.
A report by the Association for Solidarity with Inmate and Convict Families (TUAY-DER) revealed that inmates from a prison in the eastern city of Erzurum were not allowed to see a dentist unless they had seven decayed teeth. Among the inmates' further complaints were overcrowding, body searches that border physical harassment, raid-like cell searches, lack of access to books and magazines, surveying of personal notebooks and insufficient and non-hygienic food.
Some 50 sick inmates died in prisons throughout 2019 in Turkey and no information on the health condition of sick prisoners can be obtained from the Justice Ministry, human rights groups said, adding that rights violations deteriorated following the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt and the subsequent state of emergency. "Eighteen prisoners are bedridden and can't fulfill their needs on their own," a human rights activist said.
As eight years have passed since the massacre that killed 34 people, of whom 19 were children, in the Roboski village of the southeastern province of Şırnak, the village continues to carry traces of the massacre, with no suspects brought to justice and wounds kept unhealed. "Life goes on under a constant state of mourning," Ferhat Encü, who lost 11 of his relatives in the Turkish army airstrikes, said.
Turkey's Justice Ministry sent the translation to Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court reportedly before the hearing of the case into renowned businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala, who has been in jail for over two years, but the court saw the ECHR decision after ruling for the continuation of Kavala's arrest. "If the court had the willingness to release him, it would have done so," one of the lawyers said.
A Mardin court has ruled that liking posts that make PKK propaganda doesn't constitute the crime of making terror propaganda, hence setting a precedent in a country that thousands of people were handed jail terms over their social media activities. "The posts with pictures that include propaganda need to be published in a way that other people would see in order for the crime of propaganda to occur," it ruled.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that a ban on Wikipedia that has lasted for 2.5 years to be a rights violation, and has called for the ban to be removed. Other popular websites like and Paypal also remain banned in the country.
A Turkish court has used the provision of “unjust provocation” to reduce the jail terms of six inmates found guilty of killing another inmate. The court accepted the defendants' defense that the victim Ulaş Yurdakul was displaying "provocative" behaviors despite a phone call evidence that revealed Yurdakul was killed due to his being a Kurd from Batman.
Several jailed members of the music collective Grup Yorum have been on hunger strikes while behind bars on terror charges. Bahar Kurt, Barış Yüksel, Ibrahim Gökçek, Helin Bölek and Ali Aracı have all been on strike now for between 120 and 196 days. Bölek, who was released on Nov. 20, has experienced muscle and joint pain and nervous system problems.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that punishing impoliteness on social media would lead to violations of the freedom of expression in a case into an argument between two lawyers in a Facebook group consisting of judges, prosecutors and lawyers, while acknowledging that the "impolite" post included remarks that can be accepted as insulting.
Osman Kavala, a renowned philanthropist, businessman and human rights activist, will remain in jail despite a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) call for his release. "The value of my freedom is based on international norms. That is also what the ECHR ruling indicates. I demand an end to this unlawful and discriminatory practice," Kavala told the court. The next hearing of the trial will be held on Jan. 28, 2020.
Sergey Lagodinsky, Chair of the European Parliament's EU-Turkey Delegation and spokesperson for foreign policy of the Greens/EFA group, will visit Istanbul in order to monitor the trial of Osman Kavala, a renowned philanthropist, businessman and human rights activist who has been in jail for over two years, closely. "I hope Kavala will finally be allowed to reunite with his family after more than two years in prison," Lagodinsky said.
Yazidis who were repeatedly subjected to attacks and threats have decided to leave Turkey and will go to Germany. "Karabulut and Biter families promised in front of the governor that no one would plow the lands in our villages except us. However, they threatened us once again after we left the meeting," one of the members of the Yazidi family said, adding that they wish to return to their lands someday.
Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül has said that the case of Osman Kavala is up to the judiciary, as he commented on the judicial reform package and the recent European Court of Human Rights ruling on the prominent philanthropist, businessman and human rights activist. "The conformity of actions with the reforms is our common wish. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on a case that's ongoing as a minister who is part of the executive power," Gül said.
According to Diyarbakır Bar Association President Cihan Aydın, torture, maltreatment and degrading practices used against those being taken into custody have lately become systematic.
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Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Turkey's opposition parties have criticized the detention of HDP members CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel deemed the detentions "an intimidation operation" and asked the government whether new evidence was reached regarding the Kobane protests that happened six years ago. According to Özel, the recent detentions are attempts of the government to shift people's focus from the crumbling economy.
Turkish police on Sept. 25 detained some 20 HDP members, including Kars Co-Mayor Ayhan Bilgen, over 2014 violent protests against the siege by ISIS of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane. Detention warrants were issued for a total of 82 people in seven provinces. Those sought were in the MYK of the party at the time of the protests.
A group of opposition politicians slammed the construction of a 90-million-lira prison with a lake view in the eastern province of Van which government officials deemed "an investment." The opposition noted that the region has far more pressing needs than prisons and that hundreds of jails have been already built in recent years in Turkey.
Greek women from the Women's Initiative for Peace (WINPEACE) have slammed two Greek tabloids for their reports on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan allegedly having had an extramarital relationship with an actress. "We believe the fact that two newspapers in Greece, however marginal, have in the last week decided on publishing insulting, misogynist, shameful headlines, denigrating all human values is a despicable attempt to sabotage any positive developments," they said in a statement.
Turkey's Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects Chambers (TMMOB) has said that some 14 parcels on the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) land near the university masjid (prayer room for Muslims) have been zoned for construction. The architects urged the university administration to clarify the parcels' allocation and asked whether the land in question will be used for a mosque construction.
Turkey's depletion of foreign exchange reserves and the fact that a majority of its forex reserves are swap lines has created mass distrust in the economy, Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Chairman Simone Kaslowski said. Turkey needs to “ensure full market confidence” to attract long-term financing flows, Kaslowski said during a videoconference on Sept. 24.
Works to excavate an ancient Roman bath in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Yozgat have been stopped due to lack of financial funding. The area is now fenced off, and visitors are barred from entry.
İsmail Tarman Middle School in İstanbul's Beşiktaş district still remains closed despite four court rulings to reverse the school's status as religious İmam Hatip school. The rulings should have enabled for the school's reopening as a standard middle school, but the courts' decisions have not been enforced and the school's doors remain closed.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tore into President Donald Trump on Sept. 24 after he declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the presidential election in November. “You are not in North Korea, you are not in Turkey, you are not in Russia, Mr. President. You are in the United States of America, it is a democracy, so why don’t you just try for a moment to honor your oath of office, to the Constitution of the United States?” she said.
The governor's office in the Black Sea province of Giresun banned smoking cigarettes in public spaces on the grounds that it required removing face masks, hence risking the spread of COVID-19. The province will fine those smoking in the streets, parks or any other public spaces.
Turkey's largest seller of fish, Dardanel reportedly discriminated against Roma women who applied for positions at a factory. While the women weren't even called in for an interview, the company blamed the incident on the contracting hiring firm.
One of the Turkish Aegean Riviera's most pristine areas, Gökova Bay was rezoned to allow construction along with nearby Marmaris and Milas. Muğla Mayor Osman Gürün said that the rezoning threatens construction of 25,000 hectares of land, and that the are would effectively "cease to exist."
The Turkish parliament has failed to debate in its general session any draft bills prepared by any party other than the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the past two legislative sessions, daily Cumhuriyet reported. The AKP presented some 249 draft bills, 100 of which were reported on by the relevant commissions, while one of the CHP's 2,148 draft bills were investigated by commissions.
The Kızılırmak Delta Wetland and Bird Sanctuary in the Black Sea province of Samsun has observed raging fires since the reversal of its "protected area" status. While a part of the delta was transferred to the property of the government, environmentalists suspect the fires were started intentionally.
Local medical device companies have warned the Turkish Health Ministry that if debts owed by the government hospitals remain unpaid, there could be a “disruption in the health services” starting as early as in October. The Turkish Medical Equipment and Devices Manufacturers Association (TÜDER) has said that local medical firms have been waiting for the last 16 months to get their payment which has reached to around $26 billion Turkish Liras ($3.4 billion) in total.
Turkish Justice Ministry has dismissed a parliamentary question on the release of a rapist soldier for being "offensive." Uca in her question asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to reveal the reason for why former specialized sergeant Musa Orhan was released despite raping İpek Er. The ministry said that the question can be accepted if the terms found "crude and offensive" are removed.
Turkey reportedly didn't apprehend ISIS militant Yunus Durmaz responsible for deadly attacks in Turkey despite determining his location 19 times between April 29 and May 19, 2016. Durmaz, who was sought over the attacks in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, the Suruç district of the southeastern province of Urfa, the capital Ankara and Istanbul's Taksim, blew himself up during a police raid on an ISIS cell in 2016.
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
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.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
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.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
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.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
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.