Abdulhamit Gül
A HDP lawmaker has submitted two separate parliamentary questions inquiring about the whereabouts of Bahtiyar Fırat who went missing on Oct. 14 amid concerns that he might have been abducted by state agents. MP Sait Dede asked Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulahmit Gül if they will issue a statement with regards to the fate of Fırat considering that 17,000 people have been so far victims of enforced disappearances while under detention in Turkey.
The pictures showing the grim death of Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu, a police officer sacked with an emergency decree in 2016, have sparked debate on the conditions in Turkish prisons amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Media reports said that the police officer, who had been in jail for four years, repeatedly asked for treatment for his deteriorating health, but his transfer to a hospital was denied.
Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül has commented on MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for the restructuring of the Constitutional Court, saying that any amendment with regards to the structure of the top court requires the parliament's support. “Any change can be done for the sake of democracy and rule of law. And it is the parliament that can do this,” he said.
Turkish Justice Ministry has dismissed a parliamentary question on the release of a rapist soldier for being "offensive." Uca in her question asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to reveal the reason for why former specialized sergeant Musa Orhan was released despite raping İpek Er. The ministry said that the question can be accepted if the terms found "crude and offensive" are removed.
A man who threatened to sexually assault Başak Demirtaş on Twitter was released after being kept under arrest for just one day. Vedat M., who was arrested on June 16 in the northern province of Sakarya, was released after his lawyer objected to the decision. In his testimony, Vedat M. said that he made the threat while he was drunk and "in response to the insults against martyrs and their wives," referring to soldiers killed in the fight against the PKK.
The ruling AKP government and social media platforms have a love-hate relationship. The AKP loves using social media tools to spread its own narrative and propaganda, but they are highly disturbed that opposition voices can be so loud on the very same platforms.
Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia museum should be converted into a common place of worship, wrote Turkey's Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Şahak Maşalyan (Şahak II) in a tweet over the weekend. “I think it is more appropriate that it takes on the disposition of a place of worship for the faithful who are on their knees praying in submission God, rather than curious tourists running from here to there to take photographs,” Maşalyan said.
A court has detained a man for sexually harassing former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş's wife Başak Demirtaş on social media. Thousands of Twitter users sent messages of support to Demirtaş with the hashtag, "We stand with Başak Demirtaş." Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül also condemned the incident.
Twitter disclosed on June 11 three new state-linked information operations that have been taken place on its platform this year, including one in Turkey that's linked to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). "Based on our analysis of the network's technical indicators and account behaviors, the collection of fake and compromised accounts was being used to amplify political narratives favorable to the AKP, and demonstrated strong support for President Erdoğan," Twitter said.
The administration of the Edirne Prison has censored letters sent by former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, his wife Başak Demirtaş said in a tweet, while also sharing pictures of the censored letters. "What's next?" she asked the justice ministry.
President Erdoğan has called on newly appointed judges and prosecutors not to take orders from "anyone or any power." "I want you to never put your conscience and signature under the order of anyone or any power,” Erdoğan said on May 20.
Inmates at southeastern Urfa prison have been reporting a serious shortage of cleaning supplies and a lack of precautions against COVID-19, a pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) deputy said. Prison guards also reportedly violate social distancing measures during their ward searches that they conduct in groups twice a week.
Turkey's Justice Minister Gül has said that 120 inmates in four different prisons have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Gül said that none of the 120 inmates are in intensive care units and they are all in good health.
Turkey's Justice Minister Gül has asked people not to go to the courthouse unless it is an absolute must, saying officials were working on a new implementation which will suspend the current legal processes. Gül's statement came amid reports that a judge at Istanbul Courthouse and the judiciary personnel working with her have been placed under quarantine over suspected coroanvirus infection.
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
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.
The second leg of Turkey's Rafting Championship took off in the southeastern province of Hakkari on Oct. 27. The four-day event brought together 400 athletes from across the country. Both male and female athletes will compete in categories for downstream rafting, slalom and RX, a unique sub-category of the sport.
A Turkish man named Ömer İ. shot and killed his ex-fiancé and her mother hours after the young woman petitioned for a restraining order against him on Oct. 27. The assailant committed suicide during a stand-off with police shortly after.
The cover-up of the ancient mosaics and frescoes was "unqualified to the point of destroying the structure's character and artistic value," Istanbul Municipality Deputy Secretary General Mahir Polat said. The 4th-century museum was transferred to the property of the state's religious authority, and will open for Muslim worship on Oct. 30.
Public housing residents of southern Hatay who lost their homes in a recent forest fire are still expecting the government to help them, weeks after they were rendered homeless by the flames. While many officials visit the area regularly, they merely take pictures and leave, housing complex residents said.
Leader of ruling People's Alliance member Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, babbled during his weekly speech at the party's group meeting as he forgot the word "cake." The chairman accused opposition parties of preparing to eat cake in Paris once he managed to speak again, possibly a reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's row with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Former Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who heads the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), has said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's call for a boycott of call was “childish” and "a propaganda." "There are products carrying French brands that are produced in Turkey. They are produced here but their brand is French. What are we going to do, boycott those too?" he said.
Medical staff in both public and private institutions will not be allowed to quit their jobs during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a notice issued by Turkey's Health Ministry on Oct. 27. The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) released a statement with regards to the ministry's new regulation saying it is “unacceptable" at a time when the COVID-19 is still not being recognized as an occupational illness and healthcare staff are not being tested for the virus on a regular basis.
Firefighters have been battling the forest fires that erupted in the southern provinces of Adana, Mersin and Hatay on Oct. 27. Authorities have said that teams have been trying to bring the fires under control and some houses have been evacuated to keep locals safe.
The Turkish Lira further lost its value on Oct. 27, measuring more than 8.1 liras on the dollar as a result of more than 35 percent depreciation this year. The depreciation is a result of Ankara's increasingly strained relationship with the European Union, as well as the United States.
The German government has said that the Erdoğan regime has in recent years increased its support for Milli Görüş, an Islamist group monitored by German intelligence services due to alleged extremist leanings. In its response to a parliamentary question, the German government has also emphasized the links between Milli Görüş and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The ruling AKP has turned down the opposition's demand for budget discussions to be aired live on the official channel of parliament, called TBMM TV. The opposition deputies have said that these talks need to be conducted in a “transparent” manner as it concerns the people, with a CHP lawmaker saying that Turkey has not experienced such a “dark period” in its history before.
An employee of the United States’ Istanbul consulate was handed five years and two months in prison on charges of aiding the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. The court did not arrest Nazmi Mete Cantürk, meaning he will be free pending appeal.
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar has said that the party condemns extremists' abuse of Islam to justify their violent actions, but also slams France's treatment of Islam in a row about cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Many prisoners in Turkey, particularly political prisoners, are held in facilities hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from their families, making it very difficult for visitation. Requests by prisoners for transfer to a closer penal institution are now being rejected by the authorities on account of the coronavirus.
As coronavirus cases surge in Istanbul, Governor Ali Yerlikaya said that he can be a "scapegoat" if anyone's looking for someone to blame. The governor also said that he has been working closely with Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu. “My job is not politics, it is service. To that end, I am continually in contact with İmamoğlu. You should know that we are working very well [together]. There is no problem whatsoever,” he said.
Turkish police have apprehended seven ISIS militants who were preparing for attacks in the capital Ankara in the latest round of operations against the jihadist group. According to authorities, the militants were seeking to attack Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations and Nov. 10 ceremonies that are held each year to commemorate Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu right in his case against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While Turkish courts ruled that Kılıçdaroğlu "attacked Erdoğan's personal rights" in two separate speeches in 2012, the ECHR ruled that the country violated the main opposition leader's freedom of expression.
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.