coronavirus outbreak
Prof. Tevfik Özlü from the Health Ministry's Science Committee has said that Turkey can return to normal in three months if measures implemented against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continue to be abided by. "We can see that the outbreak is waning in not only Turkey, but in the world. We are heading towards a period that's appropriate for discussing normalization. Life needs to return to normal and we can't normalize by sitting at home," Özlü said.
Istanbul Medical Chamber has warned against easing the measures imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus prematurely, saying that the cost of a wrong decision would be heavy. "Even though there's a decrease in the number of coronavirus patients in the eighth week of the pandemic, the severity of the threat in Istanbul is ongoing. We remind the authorities to evaluate the decision to ease the precautions within this scope and that a wrong decision adopted prematurely would have heavy costs," it said.
Istanbul Municipality’s COVID-19 consultation committee urged the government to implement an 11-day curfew, a week before and four days during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, beginning May 23. The committee noted that the end of Ramadan is a highly active time for family socialization and shopping, both of which require physical contact.
Turkey’s relaxation of COVID-19 precautions will be discussed in a cabinet meeting today. While food businesses and hair salons will reportedly open in May, tourism, transportation and cultural activities are expected to pick back up in June, according to a pro-government journalist who often gets a tip-off from President Erdoğan's inner cabinet.
Pınar Ögünç writes: In the depths of the mines, the conditions of workers, whose lungs are already strained, have gotten darker amid the coronavirus epidemic. While production has come to a halt in Turkey's state-run mines, most of those working in the private sector carry on squeezed between hunger and death. 35-year-old Ahmet, a miner who hails from the province of Zonguldak and has been working in the Soma mines, tells his side of the story.
The decision to send children to schools after the measures imposed against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are lifted will reportedly be up to parents. According to a pro-government daily, schools will remain shut for kindergarten and elementary school students.
A number of opposition parties told Duvar that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) can't risk holding early elections, since their support have decreased. According to a CHP official, Erdoğan wouldn't risk his possibility of serving eight more years starting from today.
Turkey's largest education union urged the Education Ministry to keep schools closed until scientific evidence surfaces that clearly proves that the COVID-19 threat is passed. The Education Ministry had hinted at June 1 for re-opening schools.
President Erdoğan has sent a letter to U.S. President Trump, voicing his hope that the U.S. Congress would better understand the strategic importance of their relations, given solidarity and supplies shared during the coronavirus pandemic. “I hope that in the upcoming period, with the spirit of solidarity we have displayed during the pandemic, Congress and the U.S. media will better understand the strategic importance of our relations,” he said.
Ağrı Mayor Savcı Sayan has said that he will send medical masks to Hollywood stars and U.S. President Donald Trump amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Speaking to reporters in his office, Sayan praised Turkey for sending coronavirus medical aid to a number of countries, adding that Hollywood stars and several other celebrities have been experiencing difficulties in "desperation" in finding masks despite their fortune.
The air pollution in Istanbul fell around 30 percent following stay-at-home calls to curb the spread of the the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to the city’s municipality. The municipality said the number of vehicles on the traffic dropped as a result of the measures against the spread of coronavirus in the city, including a four-day curfew last week.
Turkish Education Minister Ziya Selçuk said late on April 29 that schools might reopen on June 1 if normalization from the coronavirus pandemic goes as planned. Earlier in the day, he had announced that that the country extended remote education until May 31.
Turkey's main opposition party CHP urged Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to permit older citizens to return to their hometowns after getting tested for COVID-19, instead of having to spend a hot summer in small apartments. The CHP also suggests an exception for citizens who travel to big cities to work in the winter, but need to be back in their hometowns for harvest season.
Istanbul's agriculture authority fined businesses some nine million Turkish Liras in the first four months of 2020, some for failing to adhere to COVID-19 precautions. The directorate conducted some 60,500 inspections until April 27.
Turkey on April 27 confirmed 95 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 2,900. The total number of registered coronavirus cases surged to 112,261.
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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
A local court in southern Turkey acquitted Birol K. of charges related to his sexual abuse of an underage relative, as well as holding her against her will. The court's ruling came despite eyewitnesses, forensic proof of the abuse and the man's death threats against the survivor.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca slammed Istanbulites' Sunday outing on İstiklal Avenue on Oct. 18, saying that anyone who entered the crowd healthy would come out ill. Meanwhile, some 1,815 COVID-19 diagnoses were made on Oct. 18, while some 72 patients died.
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.
A committee of main opposition CHP politicians said that the construction of a visitors' center on southeast Turkey's iconic Mount Nemrut was a betrayal to nature. The CHP committee noted that the site was pending assignment as a UNESCO geopark and that the construction was putting it in jeopardy.
The NATO has criticized a possible test by Turkey of its Russian-made S-400 missile launcher and stepped up calls on Ankara to opt for a different defense system. “Any test of the S-400 air defense system by Turkey, if confirmed, would be regrettable. It is important Turkey continues to work with other allies to find alternative solutions," it said in a statement.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu sent congratulatory messages to HDP co-chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan on the party's eighth foundation anniversary. "I underline once again that we will never give up on building peace and fraternity," İmamoğlu said.
Five health workers have died of COVID-19 in just one day, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said on Oct. 18, as it criticized the government for not being able to manage the pandemic properly. The names of the health workers were revealed as Dr. Salih Kanlı, Dr. Turan Yıldırım, Ferhat Gencer, Harun Dönmez and Yasemin Çolak. The number of health workers who died of COVID-19 in the past eight days rose to 13.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has cancelled his planned visit to Turkey after Ankara said it was restarting operations of a survey ship that it withdrew last month. Maas said that Ankara's renewed push "severely damaged" the atmosphere of trust and said that Turkey can't have any interest in the long-term continuation of the conflicts that it's involved in.
Denizli Governor Ali Fuat Atik has prompted fury for ordering a restaurant to be closed because a waiter working there didn't recognize him. Following criticism on social media, Atik apologized, saying that he was saddened by his approach to the man. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also commented on the incident, saying that he found it appropriate for the governor to apologize.
Some 2,500 academics worldwide, including famed international scholars Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Etienne Balibar and Enzo Traverso, have signed a petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal, a PhD candidate and researcher at Carleton University in Canada and an LGBT activist, who was detained in Istanbul on Sept. 25.
A show owner in Denizli has told the governor of the province that he wants to die because of the worsening economy when asked why he was not wearing a mask. "I've had enough. I want to die. Look at the economy. I gained 15 liras on Tuesday and 100 liras on Wednesday. What use does it have even if that 100 liras is all profit?" the shop owner said.
In the government's latest attempt to criminalize the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), summary of proceedings have been prepared against 18 of its deputies, bringing charges against them for attending demonstrations and for making statements including the word "Kurdistan."
Osman Kavala remains behind bars as one of Turkey's most high-profile political prisoners, while President Erdoğan appointed the prosecutor who prepared Kavala's indictment to the post of Deputy Justice Minister. The appointment came within seven days of the indictment's preparation, and removed the prior appointee by presidential decree.
Hale Gönültaş reports: Turkey's financial crimes unit has determined that Afghan criminals engaged in drug smuggling and in the funding of terror operations are exploiting Afghan refugees in Turkey via bank transfers. As migrants are unable to transport large sums of money and often cannot open bank accounts in Turkey, they rely on moneychangers who transfer cash for a fee, and this is usually the only option.
Health Ministry failed to deliver an Oct. 15 data release that was designed to offset the repercussions of the revelation that Ankara's official COVID-19 numbers had been excluding asymptomatic patients. The ministry said that Fahrettin Koca's promise to release all data starting on Oct. 15 had been "misunderstood," and that they would only share certain numbers with the WHO.
Former President Abdullah Gül said that he was "appalled" by the attacks on Turkey's Constitutional Court, the most recent of which accused a member of threatening a military coup. The coup debate closely followed discussions on overhauling the Constitutional Court, which many members of the governing bloc in Ankara voiced support for.
Economy
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.
Turkish exporters are struggling with shrinking markets as Morocco appears to have joined the countries that are effectively boycotting all products made in Turkey. Sources from the Moroccan Ministry of Trade indicate that measures have been put in place to prevent unfair competition from Turkish textile producers who are dominating the local market.
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.
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.
The 39th Istanbul Film Festival will offer viewings both online and in-person, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) noted. While tickets will become available on Oct. 2, showings will start a week later and last for 10 days.