Ebru Timtik
Lawyers across French cities on Sept. 7 observed a moment of silence to pay homage to Turkish colleague Ebru Timtik, who died on Aug. 27, on the 238th day of her hunger strike. “We cannot let lawyers to die in a deep silence. Our colleague lost her life after a 238-day-long hunger strike, but even this was not enough to sadden the authorities,” Frederic Olive, the head of Limoges Bar Association, said.
Lawyer Aytaç Ünsal was released on the 213th day of his hunger strike calling for a fair trial, one week after Ebru Timtik lost her life. Ünsal's sentence was part of a mass operation against 18 lawyers, who were sentenced to over 150 years in prison overall.
President Erdoğan on Sept. 1 called for the expulsion of lawyers from the profession should they be accused of links to "terrorism." Erdoğan's comments came after a picture of lawyer Ebru Timtik was hung outside the headquarters of the Istanbul Bar Association. Timtik died in an Istanbul hospital on Aug. 27 after a 238-day hunger strike with a demand for a fair trial.
The European Union has said that it's "deeply saddened" by the death of Ebru Timtik, a lawyer who had been on a death fast for 238 days with the demand to be tried fairly. "Turkey urgently needs to demonstrate concrete progress on the rule of law and fundamental freedoms," read a statement released by European Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano.
Police on Aug. 28 fired tear gas on mourners who were waiting in front of the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute to take the body of Ebru Timtik, who lost her life on the 238th day of her death fast with a demand to a fair trial. Following the funeral ceremony at the Gazi Cemevi, the police officers again did not allow Timtik's relatives to carry the coffin, and instead took it themselves on an armored vehicle to the cemetery. Those who protested this again faced police violence.
Lawyer Ebru Timtik lost her life after a failure of her heart on the 238th day of her death fast. Along with lawyer Aytaç Ünsal, Titmtik was on a hunger strike since February for the right to a fair trial. She was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison in 2019. Following Timtik's death, several intellects, politicians and bar association heads have criticized the Turkish government for neglecting the outcries of the public with regards to the case of the two lawyers.
A group of Belgian lawyers on Aug. 24 gathered in front of the Turkish embassy in Brussels in support of Turkish colleagues Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, Ünsal who have been on a hunger strike since February. Members of Avocats, an association of 8,000 Belgian lawyers, called on the Turkish government to release Timtik and Ünsal, who have been demanding the right to a fair trial.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has turned down a request for the release of human rights lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, who have been on hunger strike since February 2020 to strengthen their demand for fair trials and the administration of justice in the country. The top court alleged that there is "no serious danger toward their material or immaterial integrity" in its decision, despite the deteriorating health of the lawyers.
Rights organizations will take the case of Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal -- who have been on a hunger strike since April 5 to support their demand for a fair trial -- to the Constitutional Court. The move comes after an Istanbul court in July denied the release of Timtik and Ünsal, despite a medical report that says it is not “suitable” for the two lawyers to remain in jail.
Jailed journalist Barış Terkoğlu has said that the lack of the right to a fair trial is a common complaint in Turkey, as he voiced support to jailed lawyer Ebru Timtik, who has been on a death fast with the demand to be tried fairly. "We should be against terror and all the acts that eliminate human life. However, we should know that what differentiates between terrorists and lawyers is the balance of law," he said.
More than 11,000 people have signed a petition in support of lawyers Aytaç Ünsal and Ebru Timtik, who are currently behind bars and on a hunger strike. The two are among a group of 18 lawyers who were convicted earlier this year with a total of 159 years in prison on charges of membership in an illegal organization.
Death fasting musician İbrahim Gökçek's father Ahmet Gökçek said that his son wants to live and urged people to raise their voices to save him. "İbrahim has been on a death fast for 315 days. His situation is critical. He is mentally very strong and has been resisting. He can also follow the current events and can talk to us. He was deeply shook when his friends died, but continues his struggle with resistance," he said.
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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
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.
Turkey's three opposition parties have denounced a recent proposal by the AKP for the establishment of the Turkey Environmental Agency, which they claim will pave the way for corruption and nepotism. "It runs parallel or even rival to the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning in terms of its inspection authority but it itself is exempt from both internal and external inspection,” the CHP said.
Turkey's Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı has said that reports of Ankara mulling re-imposing curfews are "completely baseless." Çataklı's comments came after Reuters, citing a senior official, said that the government is weighing the re-implementation of lockdowns to stem rising coronavirus cases in the country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's salary has been raised by 8.3 percent to a total of 88,000 Turkish Liras, as part of a budget proposal submitted by the ruling AKP government to parliament. Erdoğan's new salary will be effective as of January 2021. Earlier in October, Erdoğan had urged the believers of Islam to have “patience” in the face of financial problems.
Some 32 deputies in parliament failed to take the stand except to take an oath, daily BirGün reported on Oct. 21. A total of 27 of said deputies were members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), receiving more than 500,000 liras in annual salaries when combined.
The trial into the murder of prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi started on Oct. 21, amid further obstacles to securing an effective investigation into the killing. None of the three defendant police officers attended the hearing in person in the courtroom, but instead appeared via the video system. Elçi family's lawyers said that this is against the normal procedure and the case was being handled in a “negligent” and “impartial” way.
Turkish police have seized 879 animal and plant fossils worth $10 million from two houses owned by Islamic televangelist cult leader Adnan Oktar. Officials said the fossils would be delivered to a museum in Ankara.
The Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court has rejected exiled journalist Can Dündar's appeal against the seizure of his assets. The court has said that it has found the 14th High Criminal Court's Oct. 7-dated decision “in accordance with procedure and law.”
In a parliamentary question addressing Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, HDP lawmaker Ali Kenanoğlu has asked what kind of legal proceedings the ministry has run against the assailants of 36 publicly known hate crime incidents that were committed against Alevis in the last eight years. Kenanoğlu's inquiry came after unidentified assailants on Oct. 20 painted threatening messages on an Istanbul apartment building housing Alevis.
Turkey said it would not hesitate to send soldiers and provide military support for Azerbaijan if such a request were made by Baku. "There is already a military cooperation agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan. If there is a need and Azerbaijan makes such a request, then Turkey would do it openly [provide military support]," Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Oct. 21.
Unidentified assailants have stabbed a 14-year-old Syrian child to death in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Konya. Vail El-Mansur was on his way to the tailor shop he was working at when he was murdered brutally.
Turkish authorities seized 220 kilograms of cocaine on a ship that arrived at a port in the country's southern coast from Brazil. Police in the coastal province of Mersin found the cocaine hidden in a container carrying packages of paper.
Istanbul University's Cerrahpaşa Medical School has been observing twice as many patients, the dean said on Oct. 20. Turkey's official numbers receded to early May levels on the same day, observing some 2,026 diagnoses. "There's almost a doubling of the number of cases and patients seeking help in Cerrahpaşa. The winter might be rough for all of us," the dean said.
Turkey will send some 110,000 tons of grains and flour to countries in need, primarily Syria, a presidential decree in the Official Gazette said on Oct. 21. While the grains will be handed out by Ankara's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent, any wages related to the operation will be taken out of the Treasury's budget as well.
During a recession that has dealt a deep blow to agricultural producers across Turkey, potato farmers are struggling to get by while retailers purchase produce cheap and sell at high prices to consumers. "I don't like the AKP anymore,” said one 70-year-old farmer, who has grown potatoes in Niğde for 45 years.
A controversial social media legislation has enabled the Turkish government to swiftly block access to scores of news reports from critical newspapers and websites within the past month. "What we are facing is a heavy censorship mechanism,” cyber-rights expert Yaman Akdeniz told the daily Cumhuriyet.
The death of Serkan Tumay in a prison raised concerns on the prison conditions in Turkey once again. While Tumay's family says that he was tortured by prison guards repeatedly and died as a result in Kırıkkale F-Type Prison, opposition deputies Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Gülizar Biçer Karaca asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to explain how he died.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Turkey guilty of violating the right to free speech of Prof. Baskın Oran and Prof. İbrahim Kaboğlu, who faced prosecution in 2005 for publishing a report on the country's minorities. The ECHR said that the legal proceedings against the two academics had “inevitably created pressure" on them leading to “self-censorship.”
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.