Amnesty International
Amnesty International has called on Turkey to investigate the throwing of two men from a military helicopter in the eastern province of Van. It also said that it's very concerned on the "allegations of torture and mistreatment," adding that international human rights law and standards must ensure that Turkey prevents torture under all circumstances.
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to "fully implement" the Istanbul Convention rather withdraw from it. The prominent organization said that Turkey's withdrawal from the convention would have "disastrous consequences" for millions of women and girls in the country.
Human Rights Watch has called on Turkey to reverse the convictions of four human rights defenders, saying that the sentences given to them are politically motivated. “We hope the higher courts will do their duty and reverse this miscarriage of justice," said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
An Istanbul court sentenced four rights defenders to prison during a trial on July 3. The court sentenced Taner Kılıç to six years and three months in prison over "terrorist organization membership." Günal Kuşun, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran were handed one year and 13 months jail terms over "aiding a terrorist organization."
Amnesty International has said that only the acquittal of all 11 human defenders, who face terrorism charges in a case dubbed ‘Büyükada trial,’ could deliver justice for the activists. The NGO's comment came just a day before an Istanbul court is expected to give a verdict regarding the case.
Turkey has been using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to suppress freedom of expression and crack down on dissenting views, said Amnesty International in a report published last week. The Turkish government has been known for aggressively targeting social media users and bringing criminal charges against them for their posts for the past several years, and this remained constant during the coronavirus outbreak.
Amnesty International started a campaign to urge Turkey's Justice Ministry to release journalists, opposition politicians and activists from prison amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The NGO noted that jailed prominent novelist Ahmet Altan and imprisoned businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala are both over 60, and former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, has been suffering from a heart condition in prison.
Turkish prosecutors have said they have not found any reason to start an investigation into Diyanet head Ali Erbaş over his comment that "homosexuality causes disease." The prosecutors' decision came as Amnesty International called on the Turkish gov't to take urgent action to counter the increasing number of discriminatory statements and policies by state officials against LGBTI people.
Turkey's parliament on April 14 passed a law that will allow the release of tens of thousands of prisoners, but which critics slam for excluding those jailed on terrorism charges, mainly journalists and politicians. The opposition points out that 'terror' has taken on a broad meaning in Turkey, essentially used as a way to criminalize any opponent of the government.
The Istanbul 35th Heavy Penal Court on Feb. 19 postponed the trial into 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair Taner Kılıç and its former executive director İdil Eser, to April 3. "Both us and our organizations are being tried to be criminalize in this trial," Kılıç told the court.
Amnesty International has called for the freedom of prominent philanthropist, human rights activist and businessman Osman Kavala and other rights defenders who are being tried over the 2013 Gezi Park protests. "We see this case as an attempt to destroy the independent civil society. It's a completely political case," Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, told Duvar English.
Günal Kurşun, a human rights defender being tried in the Büyükada Case, has said that the fact that he wrote for Today's Zaman is counted as criminal evidence. "Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın was also writing for the daily around the same time. A lawsuit should be filed for Kalın as well if that's the case," Kurşun told Duvar ahead of the hearing on Feb. 19.
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
Selahattin Demirtaş writes: You have re-arrested us after six years. You say we are the instigators of the Kobane massacres when we were actually the victims. Do you think you will be able to make us responsible for this through conspiracies based on secret witnesses and be saved from responsibility? You must genuinely believe that the fascism you rely on today will always exist.
Politics
Turkey's top medical association has said that 143,000 coronavirus patients are currently treated at their homes, whereas 460,000 others have been placed under mandatory home quarantine. The Turkish Medical Association made the remarks based on the results of a survey conducted with family physicians across the country.
A report penned by CHP lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu has said that 29 journalists, writers and publishers have received jail terms during January-September period of this year, 20 of whom have been arrested. "The animosity against journalists that is on the rise during the AKP rule is due to the government's stance against freedom of press,” Tanrıkulu said.
A group of university students and alumni are requesting that the Credit and Dormitories Agency (KYK) annul all loans. Currently, some five million Turkish university students are in debt to the state-run KYK, and 300,000 face prosecution for not being able to pay back the debt.
The lira sank to a record low to near 8 versus the dollar after Turkey’s central bank ignored investors' calls to raise its main interest rate. The decision to leave the rate unchanged prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
Putin said on Oct. 22 Russia and Turkey disagree about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but emphasized strong ties between Moscow and Ankara. Erdoğan "might seem tough, but is a flexible politician and reliable partner for Russia," Putin said.
A 24-year-old woman was shot dead by her brother in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, news portal Jinnews reported on Oct. 21. Meanwhile, a local court discounted a femicide assailant's sentence on "good behavior," adding to the list of killers that Turkish courts are lenient toward.
Protesting miners from around Turkey were promised a solution within 10 days during an Oct. 21 meeting with Justice and Development Party (AKP) Group Deputy Chairwoman Özlem Zengin. Hundreds of miners started marching to the capital earlier this month, as survivors of the Soma Mining Disaster are yet to receive damages, and workers in Ermenek have 13 months of unpaid wages.
A newly passed legislation will allow ministries to veil their budget items as they submit their budget proposals to parliament. This means that they are no longer obliged to make it public how much is paid to private contractors for projects.
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.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems were tested last week, as he also dismissed NATO allies' concerns on the issue. Akar also said that the S-400 won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather "used as a standalone system similar to the use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO."
Turkey's Health Ministry will regulate the administration of flu shots through the online government portal as supplies will fall short of soaring demand. Patients will need to obtain prescriptions from their family practitioner, report to a pharmacy with their prescription. Pharmacies will be supplied shots only after receipt of a prescription.
The AKP and its ally MHP on Oct. 21 rejected the HDP's demand to investigate what really unfolded during the 2014 Kobane protests for the 10th time. The HDP's demand came after dozens of its members, including co-mayors of the eastern province of Kars, were arrested over the protests six years later earlier this month.
A bus assistant in Turkey sexually harassed a 17-year-old passenger on a trip with Metro Turizm vehicle, notorious for sexual assault incidents. The company told an Instagram user who shared footage of the assault that the worker was uninsured, and asked them to remove the video.
Ankara said on Oct. 21 it extended the stay of its Oruç Reis survey vessel and two other ships in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Oct. 27. Ankara had withdrawn Oruç Reis from last month to "allow for diplomacy" before a European Union summit at which Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey, but sent it back this month, prompting an angry rebuke from Greece, France and Germany.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has determined that teacher and author Tahir Baykuşak's rights were violated by police who assaulted him during an ID check in Istanbul in 2016. The court said that a proper investigation was not carried out and that the mistreatment of police violated the 17th Article of the constitution.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Oct. 21 condemned Turkey for "violating international law" during one-day regional summit. Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the "baseless" allegations a day later, saying that Ankara will continue to protect "our rights and the Turkish Cypriots' rights with determination."
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.
Turkish police on Oct. 22 detained 14 people in anti-ISIS operations in Istanbul. Police said that 13 of those apprehended are foreigners and their extradition processes began. Sources told state-run Anadolu Agency that some of the suspects were active in Syria.
Refugee children are isolated to a single school in the central Turkish province of Kırşehir, daily Evrensel reported. The school has reached enrollment figures of more than 1,000 elementary and middle school students, all of whom are refugees. Smaller numbers of refugee children coming from relatively well-to-do families were reportedly able to enroll in regular schools alongside Turkish students.
Economy
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.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
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.