Mrs. Erdoğan and the rise in femicide
Just as last year, the women’s march that is held on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, was again dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets by police.
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.
One might ask why the government takes such extreme measures towards a women’s march, while Mrs. Erdoğan, the strongest female figure behind the scenes of the ruling AKP, is seemingly taking a stance for women.
First of all, any street gathering or protest is oppressed in Turkey. The right to protest is a constitutional right, but governmental practices show otherwise: Even after the state of emergency was lifted in July 2018, the AKP government continues to ban street protests and gatherings.
To organize a public meeting or protest, all groups must get permission from the governorship, which is directed by the Interior Ministry and of course, the Presidency.
If people take to the streets despite a ban, thousands of heavily armed riot police will disperse them, usually by detaining people and using teargas and rubber bullets. Some of them might end up in jail, especially if they are Kurds and/or left-leaning.
Not only political protests, but also labor protests, Pride marches, high school students’ marches and women’s marches are almost always banned. The Nov. 25 march in Istanbul was also banned by the Beyoğlu district governorate. Thanks to relentless discussions with the authorities by feminist groups, the ban was lifted.
In Ankara, although the police tried to block the march, again, women succeeded in protesting. Similar organizations in Kurdish towns like Mardin, Şırnak, Van, and Cizre, though, were strictly banned.
In Istanbul, thousands flocked to Istiklal street, chanting and holding banners that read, “We revolt against state-male violence, we want to live!” But when women wanted to march further after the press release, riot police forcibly blocked them. Even in alleyways, any small protest ended with the use of tear gas.
The Nov. 25 march is one of the most organized and highly attended protests in Turkey, since violence against women is a huge problem and the count of murdered women is on the rise. However, Mrs. Erdoğan stated on that very day that the rise in violence against women is just a perception and that today, thanks to the AKP, women can ask for their rights.
Mrs. Erdogan might think the rise in femicide is just a perception, but even the Interior Ministry stated the numbers as follows: 304 in 2016, 353 in 2017, 280 in 2018 and in the first 10 months of 2019, 299 women were killed, mostly by their spouses or family members.
It’s important to note that governmental data is questionable because some killings are not listed as femicide but as suicide or as due to unknown causes or an accident, or not reported at all. According to the We Will Stop The Femicide Platform (KCDP), which collects data from news and police reports, 440 women were killed in 2018, and 383 in the first 10 months of 2019, pointing to a dramatic gap with official data.
The mysterious deaths and horrendous killings of women of all ages are put under the spotlight thanks to women’s rights groups, journalists, lawyers and a few opposition politicians. When femicides become a public debate, the government can not act as if they don’t exist. Opposition parties, feminists, academics, and experts all agree that the government’s discourse, practices, legislative measures and inaction are the cause of such high numbers.
Hence, the second questionable statement by Mrs. Erdoğan is about the practice of women’s rights. Thanks to women’s rights groups who pushed for better rights, protection and equality, and thanks to the goal of becoming an EU member, which is a forgotten story now, AKP truly took progressive steps in its first years of governance.
As the name suggests, the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding instrument to create a comprehensive legal framework to combat violence against women, was signed in 2011 in Istanbul.
In Erdoğan’s view, who has always stated that women and men are not equal, some rights are too progressive and lead to a rise in divorce. That’s why the AKP and later, its ultra nationalist partner, the Nationalist Movement Party, are working on legislative changes that would threaten the rights that women have fought for for so long.
The fight for women’s rights is the fight to stay alive. It’s the fight to have a better, more equal life. This is what scares the Islamist-ultra nationalist alliance the most.
Some medical experts in Turkey argue that the hospitals which were previously emptied by the AKP government, can easily be ransformed into functioning hospitals with minimal spending to treat COVID-19 patients. One might wonder why they were closed in the first place.
Turkey has one of the world’s fastest growing coronavirus outbreaks, confirmed cases double every three days. The statistics, combined with the capacity of the health system and nature of the restrictions raise great concerns. Doctors are forced to apologize for their critical remarks, health workers are banned from making press releases on their conditions. Aside […]
The last time President Erdoğan, who is 66 years-old, physically took part in a meeting was a week ago. Nobody asks whether the President and his close circle have been tested for coronavirus. And of course, no one dares to ask what happens if he gets sick, and what the Turkish Presidential System would bring.
The Covid-19 will inevitably affect a much wider population, and Turkey’s limited testing is dramatic. Scientists, doctors unanimously urge for a radical testing procedure. In Istanbul, a city of 16 million, there are only four hospitals conducting tests. Meanwhile, states of emergency, strict restrictions and bans are anything but new in Turkey!
As he traveled back to Turkey from Azerbaijan, Erdoğan ominously announced a new wave of repression. A few days later, Osman Kavala was re-arrested, the mayor of Diyarbakır Selçuk Mızraklı was sentenced to more than 9 years in jail and 7 journalists were arrested.
Again we see them on the news, migrants flocking to the borders and the human traffickers going about their “business” in front of the cameras. As thousands of migrants seek to cross the border from Turkey to Greece and Bulgaria- some getting injured and dying whilst doing so - authorities talk of them as if they are cheap tokens. Not only in Turkey but in the EU countries as well.
The pro-governmental media in Turkey, which usually targets well-known individuals or critics, targets ordinary people as well. But what’s perhaps more worth talking about is how the life of the poor living in cities has changed — and how they are perceived. They, too, want to live a good life. Or just to be a part of it, even for a few seconds. And they, too, want to show off.
Just as Kavala was preparing for his release after 840 days spent in the Silivri Prison, the prosecutor’s office announced the philanthropist would be questioned on “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order." This proves how partial, arbitrary and politically involved the Turkish judiciary is. Yet the dynamics of this process remain unclear.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.