coronavirus infections
DİSK chair Arzu Çerkezoğlu said that Workers' Day will be celebrated on social media amid the coronavirus pandemic and a symbolic commemoration ceremony will be held in Taksim's Kazancı Hill to remember the victims of the 1977 attack. "For the first time in history, working class in the world won't be able to meet in the cities' most central squares in masses. However, despite these circumstances, world laborers will unite with the demands of jobs and income that fits human dignity, as well as social security," she said.
Ankara Municipality's psychological counseling hotline for COVID-19-related issues served some 400 callers from all over Turkey in the first month of operations. Residents of İstanbul, İzmir, Kocaeli, Bursa as well as Ankara have called the hotline, mostly concerned about getting ill or their loved ones getting sick.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has responded to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's accusations on CHP municipalities acting similar to "terrorist organizations," saying that they keep their silence for the good of the people. "For now, we're hearing the harsh accusations coming behind us, but keep going without saying anything. We don't have time to lose with the people shouting behind us. We keep running forward for the people," İmamoğlu said.
Turkey's Interior Ministry cancelled mass gatherings for the breaking of fasts, increased public transportation and limited access to shrines during the month of Ramadan. A staple of Ramadan traditions, the meal at the end of a day of fasting are treated as an occasion to gather in large crowds.
İYİ Party deputy Aytun Çıray has asked Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to explain the reasons for why an unusual increase in the number of deaths took place in Istanbul this year compared to last year. "In 2019, the number of people who died in Istanbul between March 11 and April 15 is 7,710. The number is 10,317 in the same time period in 2020. It can be clearly seen that it's not an ordinary increase," he said.
Government spokesperson Ömer Çelik has said that the coronavirus measures may be lifted gradually after Eid al-Fitr, which ends on May 26, if precautions are abided by. "We're thinking of lifting limitations gradually," he said, adding that some 25,000 Turkish citizens abroad wanted to return to Turkey to spend Eid al-Fitr in the country. "They will be brought to Turkey. It's a source of pride when the practices in other countries are examined," Çelik said.
High prices for evacuation flights have been straining the budgets of Turkish citizens stranded in foreign countries amid COVID-19 travel bans. Ticket prices have doubled for Spain, while all tickets are priced higher than the evacuation flights conducted in March.
Some 39 percent of health workers in Turkey haven't been tested for COVID-19, a union report revealed. Less than ten percent of hospitals conducted testing to scan workers, while only two percent conduct routine testing.
Two Turkish academics predicted that Turkey will be relaxing COVID-19 protection measures near the beginning of August at the latest. In this scenario, more than 2 million persons get infected in the country.
A public accountants' union warned that the COVID-19 outbreak could lead to the unemployment of some 10,000,000 persons. The union's report also noted that the service industry has essentially stopped entirely and that more than half of the workers could have become unemployed.
Some 1,318 Turkish citizens were transported back to Turkey during travel bans that aim to slow the spread of COVID-19. The citizens had been stranded in Iraq, Germany, Spain, Egypt and Ireland. The passengers will remain under quarantine for 14 days.
Turkish citizens have been struggling to pick up their free surgical masks in pharmacies if they're not in their registered "place of residence." The Health Ministry has been indicating particular cities for citizens to pick up their free masks, but many are dislocated due to the travel bans established to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Grocery stores and bodegas will be operating during extended hours before the four-day curfew that will start April 23 in Turkey's 31 provinces. In addition, grocery stores will operate during the curfew, along with restaurants, bakeries and some factories.
CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak has slammed the government over sending coronavirus aid to a number of countries when Turkish people can't get masks. "They couldn't distribute five masks to people in the past month, but they sent planes full of masks to Britain, Spain and Italy to show off," Öztrak said, referring to the government's decision to distribute five masks free of charge to each citizen once in every 10 days.
Residents of Istanbul's Princes' Islands petitioned to cut off access to the islands on April 23. St. George's Holiday and a national holiday at the same time, it's tradition to visit St. George's Monastery on this day.
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
President Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint with Turkish authorities against prominent Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders saying that he had insulted him on social media. "Even though the crime was committed directly against the person in the presidential seat, the value that is being violated is the state's political government structure," Erdoğan's lawyers 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.
A coal thermal power plant in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir is predicted to make more than 11 million people ill over the course of 35 years, a health impact report for the project revealed. The Right to Clean Air Plaform reported that the pollutants from the Alpu Coal Thermal Power Plant will spread to 24 provinces and destroy local farming land.
A group of miners from the Central Anatolian district of Ermenek set off once again on their march to demand unpaid wages, only to be met with a gendarmerie blockade on Oct. 26. In a video showing the miners' exchange with officers, one of them is heard saying "We are angry. We are hungry, that's why we're yelling. You can't yell!"
One of downtown Istanbul's last remaining green spaces was rezoned to allow construction despite the protest of locals. Also designated as an emergency meeting point, the green space was permitted for the construction of a 10-story building.
Turkey's southernmost province of Hatay was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 and authorities said that two militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were nabbed following the blast. Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan said that the two militants were a part of a group of four who had flown from the Syrian town of Manbij to the Amanos Mountains in Hatay using paramotors.
A report prepared by a number of civil society organizations regarding trials in Turkey prosecuting conscientious objectors to mandatory military service in the country has influenced the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to pressure Turkey on recognizing the right to conscientious objection.
President Erdoğan and the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar on Oct. 26 voiced their support for a two-state solution on the divided island of Cyprus. "We believe a two-state solution must now be brought to the table with a realistic proposal," Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also said that he would visit Turkish Cyprus on Nov. 15 and expressed his desire to have a picnic at Varosha.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 78 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed and dozens more were injured in Russian airstrikes on a military training camp in Idlib. Those targeted were in a camp belonging to Faylaq al-Sham, the monitor said, adding that it was the deadliest attack since the ceasefire came into force in March.
The second indictment against human rights defender and businessman Osman Kavala presents no new grounds to justify his detention and is politically motivated, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged the UNESCO to release its report on the restoration works in the iconic Hagia Sophia as soon as possible. Lavrov said that for Russia Hagia Sophia is particularly valuable from the spiritual point of view.
Twenty-eight of Istanbul's 39 districts have registered more than 50 percent increase in COVID-19 infections in the past week compared to the average of this month, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. “The increase rate is 50-60 percent in 11 districts, 60-70 percent in 10 districts, and 70-80 percent in seven districts,” he told reporters on Oct. 26.
A Canadian vehicle manufacturer has suspended the delivery of aircraft engines to Turkey in the wake of reports that some of those engines are being used on Turkish combat drones deployed by Azerbaijan in its conflict against Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Former main opposition CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has appealed to the Constitutional Court following two lower courts' refusal to retry him over violations of his rights to participate in politics and personal freedom.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a worker to enjoy a nice cup of tea as the latter complained of not being able to bring home bread. Erdoğan said that the worker's plea sounded like a huge exaggeration, evoking infamous French ruler Marie-Antoinette who told the people to eat cake if they can't find bread.
A dynamite blast in the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant damaged cars that were parked in the nearby lot, ANKA News Agency reported on Oct. 25. Locals have complained from the use of dynamite in the construction before, saying that the dust harms their crops, and the blasts have even cracked the walls of their homes.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that Baku would use Turkish F-16 jets in case of an external attack on the country. "They've been asking me about why Turkish F-16s are here. I'm tired of answering. Everyone knows that the F-16s are waiting. They came here for a drill and our Turkish brothers kept them here for moral support. They'll see those F-16s if there is an external attack on us," Aliyev said.
Economy
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.