Human Rights
Ankara Police rejected claims of torture of former Ministry of Foreign affairs employees while in custody in May of this year. According to the Ankara Bar Association report which was based on the collective statements of five people taken into custody, the people in question were reportedly taken into a dark room, leaned against a wall, blindfolded, brought to their knees, forced to crawl on the ground, beaten on the head with batons, and threatened with anal rape with the batons if they did not talk.
Turkey ranked 130 out of 153 countries on World Economic Forum's 2020 Gender Inequality Index. The country ranked near the bottom in the categories of equal opportunities, women's participation in the work force, equal pay and representation in politics, but was 13th in access to education and 64th in health.
A report published by the KAOS Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association details the experiences of 320 people that have been exposed to discrimination in Turkey. The problems LGBTIQ+ migrants face are not limited to their landlords and neighbors.
According to the Diyarbakır branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD), armored police vehicles have killed 36 people in ten years, and wounded 85. 16 of those killed by the vehicles were children. According to lawyer Gülden Sönmez from the Human Rights and Justice Movement, such vehicles are not appropriate for use in urban areas.
Turkey is the second biggest jailer of journalists with 47 imprisoned in 2019, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Turkey is down from first place for the first time in four years. The report also noted that 100 news organizations were closed under the current government, and that working journalists were also in legal battles and being accused of terrorism.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Turkey violated the rights of prominent philanthropist, businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala, urging the country to free him immediately. The court on Dec. 10 ruled that Kavala's right to liberty and security, right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention and the limitation on use of restrictions on rights were violated.
Some 82.1 percent of Turks believe that people's fundamental rights and freedoms are being violated in the country, according to a survey conducted by Amnesty Turkey. Some 80 percent of the interviewees believe that everyone is equal before the law in Turkey; but 54.4 percent of the interviewees have said that when it comes to implementation, people cannot enjoy these rights equally.
Turkey's top court has ruled for rights violation in a case into the wounding of a protester with a tear gas canister shot by police during Gezi Park protests. "The force used against the applicant can't be said to be necessary because public officials can't prove that the applicant was not peaceful," the court said, while also ruling for Şahin to be paid 20,000 Turkish Liras as compensation.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Turkey to compensate two Turkish nationals after they were imposed a punitive fine for shouting the slogan of “Bijî Serok Apo” (Kurdish for 'Long Live President Apo'). The ECHR said in its ruling that Turkey had violated the Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides the right to freedom of expression.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is set to issue its ruling in the case into the prominent philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala, who is is accused of being one of the “managers and organizers” of 2013 Gezi Park protests, which took place in Istanbul’s Taksim following harsh government response to a group of protesters trying to prevent the cutting down of trees for a large development project planned by the government, on Dec. 10.
Due to a major increase in incarcerations following the failed July 2016 coup attempt, Turkey's prisons have become overcrowded, and health issues have become a frequent concern. The figures indicate that 1334 prisoners are currently sick, with 457 of them suffering from severe health problems. Between 2017-2019, the Human Rights Association (IHD) determined that 44 prisoners died in jail.
A court case has been launched against 12 university students in the province of Antalya on charges of membership in an illegal organization after they sang a song in Kurdish during the Nowruz celebrations in the spring of last year. Four of the students are currently under arrest, including Devrim Ayık, who is battling colon cancer.
A report prepared by Hacettepe University shows the dire circumstances Syrian refugee women and children face. According to the report, one in every 37 Syrian child dies before reaching the age of five in Turkey. "Women's status is different because of the patriarchal structure. The society accepts child marriages and forced marriages, which are common. Interbirth intervals are short," an UNFPA official said.
Cemal Yıldırım, who was dismissed from his post in the Ankara Revenue under the Treasury and Finance Ministry three years ago, has been carrying out protests in different parts of Ankara, which resulted in him getting detained nearly 300 times. "There's no law in real terms. There is no ban on demonstrations in Ankara. But the police officers who detain us say that it's the governor's office's decision. I can't use my rights," Yıldırım said.
Lawyers of former employees of daily Cumhuriyet have asked for a repetition of the hearing held on Nov. 21, saying that the court failed to act in accordance with the procedures despite the lawyers' application for recusal. Following the ruling, lawyer Bülent Utku, who was being tried in the case, and his lawyers appealed for recusal and thus repetition of the hearing, while citing the article preventing the appointment of the same judge in cases of retrial as one of the reasons for their move.
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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.
Politics
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.
Economy
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.