homosexuality
Turkey's scriptwriters struggle with censorship to "protect family values" that ban sexuality, alcohol and smoking, but are forced to entertain much more questionable themes, writer Gül Abus said. "We wanted to have two single people have sex, and that wasn't allowed; but on the other hand we write about forbidden loves, like a married man falling in love with his daughter's friend," Abus said.
As Western attention has given up on Turkey’s human rights record, many might actually believe that things are getting better. But they’re getting worse. Just two days ago, a Kurdish villager died after being thrown from a military helicopter. He wasn’t worth the news in the Turkish media.
LGBTI+ activist İsmail Temel was on Aug. 5 exposed to police violence in Turkey's İzmir as he was about to leave a rally held in support of the Istanbul Convention. After battering and detaining him, the police called Temel's family exposing his gay identity. Following this incident which left permanent emotional scars on him, Temel was ostracized by his whole family and lost his job.
Several human rights groups have penned a letter to the UN Human Rights Office asking the organization to urge the Turkish government not to discriminate against LGBTI+ individuals and to take necessary steps to protect the LGBTI+ community from any attacks.
Turkish prosecutors have given 15 days to 11 executives of the Ankara Bar Association to submit their defenses over their criticism of Diyanet head Ali Erbaş's homophobic remarks in April.
Relations between Turkey and the European Union may indeed be back on track, but which track is that exactly? Just when I had given credit to EU-Turkey rapprochement, despite my usually pessimistic self, the usual flare-ups with Greece started up again.
Turkish prosecutors have said they have not found any reason to start an investigation into Diyanet head Ali Erbaş over his comment that "homosexuality causes disease." The prosecutors' decision came as Amnesty International called on the Turkish gov't to take urgent action to counter the increasing number of discriminatory statements and policies by state officials against LGBTI people.
The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) has slammed President Erdoğan over his plan to change the election system of professional bodies, mainly bar associations and medical chambers. TMMOB chief Emin Koramaz said in a statement on May 5 that Erdoğan wants to “make professional bodies nonfunctional and control them through the means of ‘a legal regulation.’”
A group of unions and associations released a statement that condemned Turkey's top religious official Ali Erbaş for making comments that overstep the legal limitations on his position. The statement came shortly after a conflict between the Ankara Bar Association and Erbaş for his comments about adultery and homosexuality.
In remarks targeting LGBTI individuals, a Turkish academic has said that activists' referring to the Istanbul Convention's 3rd Article on sexual orientation to promote LGBTI rights is “the exploitation of the law.” “There is no obstacle for LGBT activists to be designated as terror organization in one day," Emir Kaya said.
A German clinic has announced that it terminated the employment contract of a Turkish heart surgeon over his comments that "homosexuality is a disease." The doctor's statements echoed those of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş.
Several German politicians have found recent remarks of Diyanet head Ali Erbaş on LGBTI individuals alarming, with one saying: "Erbaş's statements once again showed that the situation for LGBTI people in Turkey remains very difficult, indeed dangerous." They have also said that they were expecting imams affiliated with Diyanet's branch DİTİB, Germany's largest Islamic umbrella group, to "abide by the basic values of freedom and tolerance."
Turkish prosecutors have extended their investigation into bar associations over their criticism of Diyanet head Ali Erbaş, who last week suggested that "homosexuality causes illness." After the Ankara Bar Association, the Diyarbakır Bar Association also now faces charges of “insulting religious values.”
The head of Turkey’s top religious authority has once again targeted LGBT individuals during a sermon. “Islam curses homosexuality. What is the reason of that? The reason is that it brings with it illnesses and decay to lineage,” Ali Erbaş said on April 24, while addressing the novel coronavirus outbreak. Last year, Erbaş had claimed that the pride march “goes against creation,” calling same-sex relations “heresy."
Twitter has exploded after a hint that one of the main characters of the new Turkish series Netflix Aşk 101 (Love 101) will be LGBT. Twitter in Turkey on April 8 headed the hashtag #netflixadamol (which translates as "Netflix, be a man").
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
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
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.”
The Coalition for Women in Journalism has launched a petition demanding that Turkey immediately drop charges against journalist Ayşegül Doğan, who prosecutors accuse of "being a member of an armed organization." "Today, Ayşegül Doğan has become the target of the government due to her journalism, which touches on social issues such as the struggle for peace, women's struggle and labor," read the petition.
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.