COVID-19
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.
Turkey on Sept. 23 recorded more than 70 daily coronavirus deaths for the first time since May. Seventy two people died over the past 24 hours due to the COVID-19 in Turkey, while 1,767 new cases were diagnosed, according to the daily figures the Health Ministry announced on a COVID-19 dedicated website on Sept. 23.
The special European Council meeting that was planned for Sept. 24-25 to discuss Turkey's drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, has been postponed to Oct. 1-2 after Council President Charles Michel went into isolation.
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.
Izmir-born Fancy Women’s Bike Ride moves online this year, but continues to advocate clean transport and “women’s natural right to cycle and do whatever she pleases.”
President Erdoğan has said that Turkey shifted to a “new phase” in the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, signaling that the government is preparing to introduce new measures to curb the spread of the virus. He also said that travel restrictions might be reimposed on citizens aged above 65 at the provincial level.
Various rights groups have said that human rights violations recorded in prisons have spiked during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a recent example of the rights violation, the groups said that authorities had confiscated several personal belongings of a group of inmates during their transfer to two newly opened Diyarbakır prisons.
Some 40 medical chambers affiliated with the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) have released a joint statement reiterating their support for the organization. “We are fortunate to have our professional organization that prioritizes and defends the right of public health, and does not compromise when it comes to scientific and free thinking," the chambers said, following MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for the TTB's closure.
President Erdoğan has said that the government is preparing to introduce new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, since "people have not complied with the rules." The virus infections began increasing after Ankara loosened restrictions on public activity, starting in June. Critics have also accused the government of hypocrisy with regards to the measures, pointing out that social distancing measures were being overlooked in several occasions, such as the rallies of the AKP.
Adverts offering COVID-19 testing that yields results in three hours have been circulating Turkish capital Ankara as the city observed a spike in daily diagnoses and deaths. Meanwhile, legitimate laboratories say that no such test exists.
Turkish musicians have launched a campaign on social media with the hashtag of #MüziğeSesVer (which translates as “Give voice to music”) to raise awareness on the devastating impact of the COVID-19 on the whole music chain. “It is impossible for the sector to recover from the current financial damage through its own efforts," said a statement issued by the campaign organizers.
Qu Dongyu writes: The food systems that must give daily sustenance to all humans on this planet are under threat by the COVID-19 pandemic. If we want to avoid what could be the worst food crisis in modern history, we need robust and strategic international cooperation at an extraordinary scale.
The COVID-19 pandemic has surged to the same intensity as the first two weeks of the outbreak, Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Chair Sinan Adıyaman said. Meanwhile, chaos could erupt in the winter months as the national health budget becomes strained to the point of bankruptcy, the former chairman of Ankara Medical Association said.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has called for the closure of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) after the organization has this week launched a series of protest events, accusing the government of mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic. In the face of Bahçeli's remarks, messages of support poured in from Twitter users for the TTB, with the hashtag campaign of "#İyikiTTBvar" (which translates as "So glad we have TTB") going viral.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the coronavirus contagion in the country has been accelerating for the last two months. “Today, both we and the world are in a more difficult phase of COVID-19 than at the beginning of the pandemic," Koca said, indicating that the “burden” on the Turkish healthcare staff has increased by 4-5 times compared to the initial phase of the pandemic.
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
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.
An initiative launched by lawyers close to the government has announced that it has collected the minimum number of signatures need to establish its own bar association in Istanbul. The founding member of the Istanbul No. 2 Bar Association, Cavit Tatlı has said that they will submit their application to the Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) on Sept. 23.
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.