Melek Çetinkaya, mother of three, describes herself as an ordinary housewife, with no education. Yet she is one of the most vocal figures to seek justice.
Her eldest son, Furkan, an air force cadet, was only 19 when the coup attempt happened. Furkan is among 116 air force cadets who were arrested in 2016 and got life sentence. The total number of sentenced cadets accused with “trying to overthrow the government” is 372.
“Why is my son in jail, along with hundreds of cadets, when the chief of air staff Abidin Ünal was not tried or took the witness stand after the 15th July coup attempt?”
Melek Çetinkaya was my guest at Artı TV-“Söz Bizim” last week to tell her son’s story:
“That day, our kids were in the Tuzla Academy. None of them is allowed to have a phone in the premises and they had no idea what was going on. There was an terror alert and they were put into buses around 12 PM. Why didn’t the governorship of Yalova or police forces controlling the main roads stop them?”
Around that time, everyone in Turkey heard about the coup attempt. But the nine buses carrying cadets were sent to different parts of Istanbul.
Who gave the order? Nobody knows. Furkan was in the bus to sent to Ümraniye. On their way, they understood that something was terribly wrong but being a miliary student, they had to follow orders. When they reached their destination, they didn’t leave the bus in order not to provoke or harm ordinary citizens. That night, there is no evidence of an armed conflict in Ümraniye.
“They didn’t use their guns, hid them under their seats. We asked for balistic reports at the court. People from Ümraniye volunteered to take the witness stand. But the Court denied all of our requests while accepting all requests by Erdoğan’s and Yıldırım’s lawyers. Our kids got life sentence for aiming to overthrow the government.”
Actually, people hugged the cadets in Ümraniye for “not being a traitor and standing with them”. The footage was shown on pro governmental media.
Melek Çetinkaya has many questions and she is not afraid to ask them. For instance, the cadets were accused that there is no way they could be not aware of the coup.
“Well, the Commander in Chief, Hulusi Akar, said that he was not aware of the coup. Now he is the Defense Minister. My son followed the order, as any cadet or any private soldier is supposed to do. And even if they took part in the coup, who can blame them for following orders?” says Çetinkaya.
Çetinkaya lives in Ankara and goes to Yuksel street every week to protest with other people who seek justice. Most of them are public workers who want their jobs back. Thanks to heavy police presence, they can not protest more than a few minutes on the street. Sometimes, they get detained before getting out of a bus.
Melek Çetinkaya got detained more than 25 times. She’ll begin to start her walk for justice on 19rd January from Ankara to the notorious Silivri Prison outside Istanbul. She says her son is held with 45 prisoners in a tank for 7, get food suuficient for 28 people.
She calls Erdoğan or anyone of his staff to confront her on a live show: “Surely they can shut up a poor woman like me, right? So why don’t they accept it?” Erdoğan’s lawyers blocked her on twitter, getting tired of her questions. Once, she met the Bar President Metin Feyzioğlu. He advised her “to be quiet” and ask for a personal appoinment with President Erdoğan “to solve the problem”. Çetinkaya in turn, said: “There is rule of law in this country, right? How can the President decide for one case?”
What happened on July 15 is still a very touchy and scary subject, since more than 30 thousand went to jail with the accusation of being a Gulenist and/or being involved in the coup.
The media almost totally neglects or misinterprets cases related to July 15, in fear of being targeted themselves. On the other hand, highranking Gülenists, who long fled the country, are in fact using the cases and imprisonments for their own PR. But none of them admits their own involvement or responsibility in the events, affecting thousands of innocents, costing lives.
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.
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.
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.