Human Rights
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.
3,000 minors in Turkey are serving prison sentences, and more than half of them are jailed at adult penitentiaries, according to a report prepared by the Civil Society in the Penal System (CİSST) association. The report also indicated that children were being held in solitary confinement, despite the fact that this is illegal.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled the state to pay 20,000 Turkish Liras as compensation to sculptor Mehmet Aksoy, whose 35-meter-tall "Monument to Humanity" was demolished after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed it as being a "freak." The top court has said that Aksoy's freedom of expression was violated with the demolition, adding that the work of art could have been transferred somewhere else.
Pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party mayor İrfan Sarı of the district of Yüksekova in Turkey's eastern province of Hakkari was stripped from office by the government earlier this year and subsequently arrested. His family claims Sarı has been subjected to poor treatment in solitary confinement and has been unable to receive his medications.
The case of 12-year-old Uğur Kaymaz, who was shot and killed by police alongside his father outside of their home in the Kızıltepe district in the southeastern province of Mardin in 2004 has been moved by lawyers to the European Court of Human rights after Turkish courts rejected applications for a retrial against the police who were acquitted in the shootings.
Children in the province of Adana as young as 11 are being put to work in clothing factories for long hours, low wages and around chemicals that are specifically labeled to not be sold or given to children.
The European Court of Human Rights has sentenced Turkey to pay compensation to a former pro-Kurdish politician over violation of his right to freedom of expression. The court ruled that attending PKK militants' funeral and the subsequent demonstrations doesn't constitute a crime.
The mother of an 8-year-old boy with bone cancer is unable to take her son to Germany to receive treatment due to a travel ban preventing her from leaving Turkey. Ataç's mother Zekiye Ataç was taken into custody after the July 2016 coup attempt for being a follower of Fetullah Gülen, and was subsequently released but with a travel ban.
PEN Center Germany has declared Ahmet Altan an honorary member, calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release the journalist. Altan's "continued detention is solely political and therefore neither acceptable nor justified," said the statement signed by Ralf Nestmeyer, the vice president of the PEN Center Germany.
A 19-year-old seasonal agricultural from the southeastern, predominantly-Kurdish province of Diyarbakır succumbed to his injuries after being attacked and shot earlier this year in the northwestern province of Sakarya for waving at a vehicle that was bearing the Diyarbakır license plate code.Şirin Tosun spent 51 days in the hospital after being shot in August, before passing way on Oct. 13.
U.S. actress Mia Farrow has shown solidarity with the prominent Turkish journalist Ahmet Altan, who was re-arrested by a court order on Nov. 13. Farrow shared The New York Times' article “Turkey Detains a Top Journalist Again, Signaling a Continuing Crackdown” on her Twitter account.
Serhat Language, History and Scholarly Research Education Association (SER-DER) President Mehmet Bulgan has called upon the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) to make efforts to increase Kurdish language courses in majority-Kurdish cities, underlining that the language is under threat.
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.