coronavirus in Turkey
The Turkish government is reportedly planning to hand prison sentences between two months and a year to those violating quarantine rules based on an article of the Turkish Penal Code, which regulates behavior in violation of the measures against contagious diseases. The country on Sept. 23 announced the death toll as 72 - its highest since the beginning of May.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş have refuted COVID-19 data shared by the Health Ministry. "An investigation commission must be set up in parliament and they should ask for data from mayors of Ankara, Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara. They then should look at official data," Yavaş said, while asking, "What good does it have to announce the numbers lower than they actually are?"
Authorities in Istanbul announced curbs on weddings and other ceremonies in Turkey's largest city on Aug. 29. The restrictions were published a few hours before Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 1,549 new cases of coronavirus had been diagnosed in Turkey, the highest daily number since mid-June. Thirty-nine people died, the most since mid-May, he said.
The Unity for Democracy platform has released an announcement on its website on Aug. 24 asserting that Turkey's present coronavirus situation is out of control and has called for urgent measures to be taken, citing recent figures and statements from healthcare experts.
For hotels across Turkey, 2020 has become a fight for survival, with the outcome crucial for a tourism industry which earned $35 billion in 2019 and whose losses this year have hit the country's foreign exchange earnings and contributed to the lira falling to record lows against the dollar. Ankara has tried to salvage the sector with intensive diplomacy and a healthy certification program meant to lure tourists.
Prof. Oya İtil, the deputy chair of Turkish Thoracic Society, pointed to the exhaustion among doctors and said that resignations are increasing amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The professor also said that the rapid switch to normalization in July and August led to a sharp increase in COVID-19 patients.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have discussed cooperation on Moscow's recently registered coronavirus vaccine in a phone call. Besides, the presidents focused on certain issues on the bilateral agenda, including the expansion of trade and economic partnership. They agreed to continue contacts at different levels.
Turkey's coronavirus count rose on Aug. 15 to its highest daily level since June, with total deaths nearing 6,000. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter there were 1,256 new cases and 21 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing total cases above 278,000, and he urged Turkish people to work together to turn things around.
Only 25 percent of the Turkish public has trust in the presidency, according to a recent poll from the ArtıBir research company. Some 17.3 percent of those polled said that they did not have trust in any of the country's institutions, while the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was the most trusted institution with the confidence of 38.2 percent of those responding to the poll.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi has slammed Turkey's Justice Ministry for not revealing the number of coronavirus cases in prisons for nearly 50 days. "A heightening risk is in question at prisons, but the ministry is more concerned about hiding the number of cases than struggling against the virus," she said.
A ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy has tested positive positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) days after attending Friday prayers at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia. Akay is the third AKP deputy to announce that he was diagnosed with coronavirus after attending the prayers.
Experts have claimed that the Health Ministry has been hiding the actual number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country amid the worsening situation, as they pointed to the removal of two significant parameters from a chart shared daily by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. They also voiced concerns on a second wave that would put the health system in a difficult situation.
Social distancing was completely forgotten around Istanbul's Hagia Sophia ahead of its opening as a mosque, prompting concerns on the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Health Minister Fahrettin Koca shared warnings on Twitter, urging people to follow precautions. "First comes precautions, then takbir," Koca said, referring to the Arabic term for the phrase God is great.
Turkey has suspended flights to Iran and Afghanistan as part of the measures against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the country's transport ministry said on July 19. Earlier, a spokesman for Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, Reza Jafarzadeh, said that the suspension of flights had begun on July 18.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that it sent millions of masks, gloves, goggles and other items worth $1.7 million to protect healthcare professionals and other frontline workers in Turkey from COVID-19. "WHO has also assisted the Ministry of Health to track the spread of COVID-19 in Istanbul, one of the cities hit hardest by the pandemic," it said.
Editor's Picks
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Vural Özdemir writes: A smirk is invariably political and never innocent. Smirk undermines democratic practices and human rights. Let’s bear in mind that oppression is sometimes enacted upon us in the form of a smirk.
Politics
Two men who were detained in Van's Çatak and who were taken to a hospital by soldiers were thrown from a military helicopter, hospital records have confirmed. According to the records, Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut were brought to the hospital for "getting injured after falling from a helicopter." Van Governor's Office, meanwhile, denied the incident, saying that Turgut "fell in a rocky area when trying to escape from soldiers."
Merkez İlaç CEO Mehmet Şapçı has told Health Minister Fahrettin Koca that most of the sanitizers used in hospitals are fake. According to Şapçı, these fake products have around 3.3 percent povidone-iodine, whereas the standard is at 10 percent. He also named the fake products in the letter he sent to the minister.
In a not-so-veiled message to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan has said that although the top court is open to criticism of its decisions, remarks which focus on judges and "go beyond criticism will not bring any benefit.” Arslan's comments came after he was targeted by Soylu over the top court's decision to permit inter-city demonstrations and marches.
A report prepared annually by the Hrant Dink Foundation showed that Armenians were the most targeted group in hate speech in Turkish media in 2019. According to the report, there were 5,515 instances of hate speech in local and national media and 803 of them targeted Armenians. Syrian refugees followed Armenians with 760 instances, Greeks ranked third with 754 and Jews were targeted 676 times.
Turkey's premier petrochemical company Petkim has been involved in illegal oil business with Syria, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Files, which said that Petkim and its associate Petrokim completed over $90 million in "suspicious transactions" between March 2010 and January 2016.
Handan Bul, a 23-year-old woman was shot dead by a coworker she turned down in the western province of Bilecik. The 30-year-old assailant, Yusuf Uğur also shot and killed himself on site.
After the suspicious death of Kurdish soldier Mustafa Araz in the province of Kırklareli in May was ruled a suicide by military officials, Araz's family has stated that they believe their son was murdered. The family also disputes that the suicide note which was added to his file actually belongs to Mustafa Araz.
A young man is offering unique codes provided by the government to visitors of the Diyarbakır Courthouse, as the codes are required to enter public buildings. Initially created as a traveling precaution during the pandemic, HES codes are available online, but not everyone knows g-how to get them, the young man said.
The HDP has conducted an online meeting with representatives from 26 EU member states regarding Turkey-EU relations, human rights, and the Kurdish issue. HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan said that the EU needs to take a more consistent stance against Turkey's "increasingly authoritarian government."
The founders of private Altınbaş University were detained on charges of fraud in Istanbul. The brothers allegedly reported buying boat fuel to benefit from tax exemptions regarding marine transportation.
An Ankara court has ruled for the continuation of imprisonment of former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ on charges related to 2014 Kobane riots. The Kobane investigation was launched in 2014 and reopened in 2019, and has failed to produce an indictment for Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ since. Lawyer Levent Kanat has said that new charges were brought against the politicians over the same incident to make sure that they remain in prison.
Heavy machinery entered the sacred Alevi grounds of Munzur Springs in eastern Dersim, despite promises from the governor's office that landscaping in the area wouldn't involve construction machinery. The state-run project will reportedly cost eight million liras, and was allegedly approved by a natural resources protection board.
Future Party chairman Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that the party will nominate its own presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, amid rumors that opposition parties are contemplating of coalescing behind a joint candidate. Davutoğlu said that although Future Party is open to cooperation with other parties concerning various issues, it still aims for the rulership on its own.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has announced that its 72nd Great Congress will no longer be held at CerModern, but instead at Bilkent Hotel. The change came after CerModern notified the TTB that it could not meet the COVID-19-related safety guidelines designated by the Ankara Governor's Office.
Run by Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), the Islamic Research Center (İSAM) has seen a 600-percent increase in its budget over the last 16 years. Known for holding a symposium about Islamic fatwas on medical issues, the foundation is chaired by a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
A group of health workers in Ankara had to barricade the door of an emergency room when loved ones of a patient wanted to push their way in to see the deceased gunshot victim. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that the workers had been afraid of a violent attack, as health workers in Turkey are often targeted by patients' families.
Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK) got into a brawl with an actor over a complaint from an 11-year-old viewer who said the actor's show "affected him a lot." After RTÜK shared the message on social media, the actor protested the council's reporting of his show to the public.
Climate activists who have been living in western Kaz Mountains in protest of destructive mining activities were detained as gendarmerie raided their campsite on Sept. 22. One activist said that the detentions were prompted by the wishes of Cengiz Holding, a company known for their close ties to Ankara who recently signed a tender for mining in the Kaz Mountains.
Economy
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Turkish Airlines (THY) observed a drop of almost 65 percent in the number of August travelers compared to the year before. Domestic flights saw a smaller drop of 47.1 percent, while international flights shrank by 75.4 percent, THY said.
Urban Beat
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.