Last week, two families were found dead by cyanide poisoning in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya. Since both families had financial difficulties, in public debates these tragic incidents were mostly regarded as an outcome of the recent economical crisis and wrong policies of the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) government.
“To analyze a suicide without knowing the individual case is dangerous and also unethical”, says psychiatrist Agah Aydın. Yet after the death by cyanide poisoning of four middle aged siblings in Istanbul, everyone rushed to accuse someone.
Apparently, the Yetişkin family was in heavy debt, unavaible to pay their bills. Oppositional parties put the blame on the government’s economic policies and the economic crisis taking its death toll.
Pro-governmentand Islamist media preferred to explain the tragic incident to the family owning a Richard Dawkins book: They were atheists, no pious Muslim would do “such an awful thing”.
A columnist for the daily Sabah insisted that the only employed person in the family, the elder sister Oya, who worked as a model for an arts faculty students had a substantial income.
This, of course, was ungrounded because not evenfaculty professors have incomes as high as claimed, many lacking basic rights of employment.
Then, another cyanide posioning of a family of four in Antalya shook the country. Apparently, the father killed his two children aged 5 and 9, and wife. He left a note citing financial difficulties.
It is a fact that poverty and violence can lead to depression and in some cases, suicides. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 70 percent of suicides in the world occur in countries with low and middle incomes.
Turkey generally does not rank high in suicide rates. One reason is religion; in Islam suicide is a sin. Culture and family ties also are among strong reasons why people refrain from taking their lives according to experts.
However figures show that there is a rise in suicide rates in Turkey. According to Turkey’s statistics authority TÜIK, the number of suicide cases were 3,161 in 2018.
Between 2002-2012, around 2,000 suicides per year were recorded. After 2012, the average rose to 3,000 per year.
According to Professor Daron Acemoğlu of the MIT, Turkey’s “high quality” economic growth started to cease in 2006. After that, the economic growth was “low quality”: Not ensuring productivity, unemployment rate, relying heavily on credit consumption and construction sector rather than investments and technology.
The economic crisis in increasingly started to affect living conditions of the Turks this year. Unemployment rates hit a record with %13.9. In 2019, more than 5 million young people aged between 15-29 are reported not having a job or a place in the education system.
It’s important to note that the neo-liberal lifestyle which was introduced and promoted by the AKP government resulted in more people migrating to big cities, living in crowded little apartments and aiming for a better life, whereas institutions were weakened.
The society does not only suffer from economical crisis and neo-liberalism, but also a harsh transformation from a hybrid democracy to a more authoritarian state, where basic rights and rule of law are undermined on a daily basis, where institutions are weakened and wiped out.
The coup attempt in 2016 and its aftermath is taking its toll on the society, as well as the refugee flow and military operations in northern Syria. Turkey now ranks 152nd among 163 countries in the Global Peace Index.
Political leaders favoring hate speech add up to a constant state of war and violence.
Maybe it’s impossible and wrong to name one person or policy responsible for suicide and depression rates, but sociopolitical and economic factors surely play a role in the rise of the recent tragic events.
It’s hard to voice opposition to war when the coffins of slain soldiers are being sent back from Syria and when the nationalist mood is in full swing. However HDP deputy and former journalist Ahmet Şık, who has been jailed twice and is still tried on the Cumhuriyet case, says that they have the responsibility to question why so many young people are dying for.
The watchmen will not operate under a specific law or the constitution but under the government’s direct orders. Opposition parties thus warn of a “parallel police force” that enjoys unprecedented powers. At night, the watchmen could well turn into the state’s moral police.
Although the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled for his immediate release on Dec. 10, 2019, Osman Kavala remains as the only defendant under detention at the Gezi trial. So the question is whether the Council of Europe (CoE) and member states will stand up. If they will not do that, what is the function of the ECHR and why should other states bother to follow its rules?
Well-known economists have questioned how Kanal Istanbul will be financed, but they haven’t yet received any answers. Prof. Dr. Haluk Levent from Bilgi University believes that Kanal Istanbul is a Ponzi scheme, but with a difference: in a Ponzi Scheme, everything must be on the record, but this is not the case for Kanal Istanbul. The scheme is changing the town planning and zoning.
The media almost totally neglects or misinterprets cases related to July 15 in fear of being targeted themselves. On the other hand, high-ranking Gülenists, who have long fled the country, are in fact using the cases and prison sentences for their own PR.
Despite the government's pledge to combat femicide and domestic abuse, 474 women were murdered by men in 2019 in Turkey. Women’s rights advocates have repeatedly said the system is too weak to protect women.
Data from the last two years in Turkey points to a steady decrease in almost every aspect of a functioning, healthy democracy, such as freedom of speech, quality of education, gender and income equality, and the rule of law. It’s no surprise that society has become unhappier compared to 2017. Surely the AKP-MHP alliance is responsible for this great social, economic and political collapse.
Two days ago I went to the forth hearing of the Gezi trial in Silivri, where Kavala is the only imprisoned suspect among 16 civil society activists accused with ‘organizing and financing Gezi protests to overthrow the AKP government’ back in 2013. These trials are top examples of how rule of law is undermined and how human rights abuses are executed.
Kanal Istanbul is not only critical for Erdoğan financially. It also represents a political battlefield in which he wishes to beat his opponents, in this case the new opposition Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.
General elections appear to be on the agenda in 2023. That is what statements from President Erdoğan and his alliance partner, the MHP leader Bahçeli, suggest. Yet, the prospect of snap elections also looms. Many politicians, economists and journalists claim snap elections will be held in 2020. While snap elections may not seem logical, logics don’t apply to Turkish politics.
The severe violations of sick prisoners rights are against the law and contradict with international agreements Turkey partakes in. Human right advocates accuse the government of being unwilling to address these problems and point to the The European Council, which remains silent.
Just a few hours before police teargassed women in the streets of Istanbul, Emine Erdoğan, wife of President Tayyip Erdoğan, was giving a speech that denounced violence against women on the occasion of the International Day for Eliminating Violence against Women. However, Mrs. Erdoğan has also stated that the rise in violence against women is just a perception and that today, thanks to the AKP, women can ask for their rights.
As a journalist, I find it to be embarrassing and paradoxical that President Trump, not known to be a supporter of the free press, mocked the Turkish press.
Yet his words, “You sure you’re a reporter? You don’t work for Turkey with that question?” reflect the truth regarding the group of people Erdoğan took along with him to Washington. These words sum up the status of the Turkish mainstream media.
Last week, another bunch of journalists were sacked from daily Hürriyet newspaper, which is still considered as the “flagship” of the mainstream media. In fact, Hürriyet lost its prestige long while ago. It doesn’t really matter who the editor in chief is now. Or why and how journalists were sacked. It is the final nail in the coffin. The mainstream media resembles the living death.
By looking at mainstream media, military salutes of popular figures or twitter trending topics, one might assume that Turkish people were heavily supporting the military operation in Northern Syria -officially called “Operation Peace Spring” ending in 8 days- no matter what the rest of the world says. When there is any military action in Turkey or outside its borders, it becomes even harder for critical voices to be heard.
Associate Professor Şık was the deputy director of the Food Safety and Agricultural Research Center at Akdeniz University. Then, due to his scientific research, he became an enemy of the state.