Human Rights
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.
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.
Editor's Pick
Soner Çağaptay and Raffaella A. Del Sarto write: The EU often praises itself as a promoter of democracy and regional stability by highlighting the power of its enlargement process to include new members in the “neighbourhood.” Yet in the case of Turkey, its ill-conceived policies may well have contributed to the opposite. A clumsy EU has repeatedly gotten its policy toward Turkey wrong, often inadvertently helping Erdoğan at key points during his rise while creating preventable tensions with Ankara.
Politics
Russia's President Vladimir Putin called on Oct. 29 for an immediate ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh and peace talks that would review proposals from many countries including Turkey.
Turkey's testing of Russian S-400 missile defense systems continues to draw rebuke from the United States. "That risk is very real because they… continue to pursue the S-400. And, of course, with the testing of it, sanctions is very much something that is on the table," R. Clarke Cooper, the top State Department official in charge of arms sales, said on Oct. 28.
A 120-year-old woman living in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak has beaten the novel coronavirus. Following a 15-day-long treatment, Menica Encü was discharged from hospital accompanied by applauds on Oct. 28.
A Turkish court has sentenced a high school teacher to 52 years and five months in jail for sexually abusing five of his students. Child advocates have been calling for better sex abuse prevention for years. The Turkish government says it will work on prevention but has not specified how.
Twelve women who were violently detained by police during a femicide protest are now facing charges of battery from police officers, the indictment against them revealed. The women are primarily accused of holding an illegal assembly in protest of the brutal murder of 27-year-old Pınar Gültekin.
Some 210 migrants were discovered inside the trailer of a freight lorry in the eastern province of Van on Oct. 29. Migration officials reportedly searched the lorry during routine road controls and detained the lorry driver. Some 18 of the migrants were children.
Unmonitored and extensive mining in eastern Turkey threatens to destroy all life in the area, an environmental activist said. Divriği Life and Nature Platform has launched a social media campaign to organize locals against mining.
Turkey's parliament, hampered by the increased authority granted to the presidency after the country transitioned to a presidential system two year ago, has received a budget hike of 8.4 percent for the upcoming year. Parliament Speaker Şentop said that parliament had been working at full speed in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some 20 non-governmental organizations slammed Istanbul Municipality's search for a landscape design for the city's iconic Taksim Square on the grounds that the process didn't allow for "democratic input" from all stakeholders. Istanbul Municipality held a design contest for potential landscapes for Taksim Square that yielded three final projects on Sept. 20, which were offered up to the public for voting.
Turkey's largest mining union Maden-İş blasted miners who are members of the organization and who are striking for severance pay as "provocateurs." Laborers from two mines in Turkey have roused up attention recently by marching to the capital of Ankara in protest of being denied their rights.
An ancient church in the southeastern province of Mardin once belonging to Turkey's dwindling Assyrian community is being sold by its owner. The owners of the property gave up on selling the ancient church in 2015 after fierce reaction mounted against the sale, though realtor Mahsum Altay said there were no legal obstacles to selling the church.
President Erdoğan has said that Armenia employed PKK and YPG militants to fight against Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. "They say, 'You're sending foreign militants to Azerbaijan from Syria.' I told Mr. President [Putin] that around 2,000 PKK and YPG militants are fighting for Armenia with 600$ salary," Erdoğan said, to which Putin reportedly responded by saying, "I don't know about that."
AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik deemed CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's call on First Lady Emine Erdoğan to burn her Hermes handbag following calls to boycott French goods "violence against women." President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a harsher tone, saying, "If you have the guts, talk about me."
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Oct. 28 raised the alarm about a 62 percent weekly surge in number of COVID-19 cases in the country's most populated city Istanbul, describing the infection rate as "frightening." "If we don’t get the situation in Istanbul under control, the outbreak will spiral out of control,” Koca said in a press conference, following a meeting of the government's science board.
Turkey's opposition Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener urged the president to respond to "adolescent-like European leaders with statesmanship" instead of the "same adolescent attitude." The chairwoman's comments are in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's brawl with French President Emmanuel Macron over the latter's strong stance against "Islamist separatism."
A new metro line running between Istanbul's neighborhoods of Mecidiyeköy and Mahmutbey on the European side opened on Oct. 28. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu announced that the new line will be at the service of Istanbulites for free for the first 10 days.
Ali Babacan, the former deputy prime minister from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who founded the opposition DEVA in March, has said that critics of the government are being arrested or left unemployed for just expressing their opinions. “People are being detained just for speaking, for writing. You cannot consider a thought a crime. If you want just one opinion to persist in this country, this cannot happen. It is impossible,” Babacan said.
Turkish police on Oct. 28 detained five people over their alleged involvement in the suicide bombing that shook Hatay's İskenderun district earlier this week. İskenderun was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 which the authorities blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
President Erdoğan has asked whether people believe that "anyone can't bring home the bread." "Do you believe that anyone can't bring home the bread? Do you think such thing exists in Turkey? Turkey is ahead of many countries in terms of its minimum wage and salaries," Erdoğan told reporters, adding that Turkey is "at a great spot" when one looks at data from the IMF and OECD.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank Governor Murat Uysal said that it has no target on exchange rates as the lira touched a new low for a third day on Oct. 28. Uysal said higher import costs, with the lira tumbling to record lows beyond 8.3 to the dollar, rising food prices and strong credit growth were the main causes of the upward revision.
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that the economy is growing despite the tumbling Turkish Lira. The lira weakened to a record low on Oct. 26, hit by investor unease over the central bank's decision last week to keep its policy rate on hold and various sources of geopolitical concern. Strains in ties with the United States, a row with France, a dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime rights and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh have all unsettled investors.
Turkish monthly inflation was almost four times greater than the official rate in September, according to a new model developed by a group of academics and researchers. According to the independent Inflation Research Group (ENAG)'s first published finding, consumer prices in September rose 3.61 percent from the previous month, compared to the official Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK)'s calculation of 0.97 percent increase.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
Urban Beat
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.