Istanbul Municipality
Istanbul Municipality recently tore down fences around a renovated historic block that was gated-in to give the appearance of a housing complex to a city block. With a history of booming nightlife, Istanbul's Sulukule neighborhood became the site of a state urban transformation project in 2005.
Renovation work on Istanbul's iconic Galata Tower's exterior was paused to protect the hatching common swift babies. The decision followed a petition with over 11,000 signatures and complaints from non-governmental organizations.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on June 25 announced that the municipality purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II at a London auction. According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly cost the Istanbul Municipality some 5,000,000 Turkish Liras. The city will be pausing non-essential projects for a year to compensate for the emergency spending, Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has said that a taxi driver had his license revoked after battering a Moroccan woman passenger in February. The municipality said that the driver clasped the woman by the throat in an attempt to get the taxi fare of 22 Turkish Liras.
Aynur Tekin reports: A platform established by the residents of Istanbul's Princes' Islands, urged the municipality of Istanbul to ensure healthy conditions as well as routine inspections for the horses of the island. More than 1,000 horses living in stables on Istanbul's Princes' Islands are at risk of death due to lack of activity, they said.
In the light of social-distancing orders, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality placed "social distancing circles," measuring roughly 240 cm in diameter and spaced 180 cm apart, throughout Caddebostan Park. The municipality will extend the implementation to other parks in the city in the following days.
CHP Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu has prepared a report on rights violations in Turkey in April, saying that there were 271 instances that the right to life was violated. Tanrıkulu, in his report, also cited violations related to COVID-19, mainly stemming from the government's bans on opposition municipalities from carrying out aid campaigns.
A foundation led by the Turkish president's son-in-law announced May 13 that they were annulling a contract they had signed with the Istanbul Municipality (IBB) in 2017, before it was won by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). The announcement came after a few weeks long brawl with CHP deputy Veli Ağbaba about the project that started when the latter claimed that Istanbul municipality had funneled 41 million liras to T3 Foundation.
An Istanbul-based civil rights organization warned that non-centralized relaxation of COVID-19 precautions would lead to a worsening of the pandemic in Turkey. The non-governmental organization urged a centralized and inclusive normalization to avoid fatalities and further strain on socioeconomic activity.
Istanbul Municipal Council's members from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have significantly decreased the municipality's resources despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, prompting criticism from Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu for being politically-motivated. "I should underline that these decisions will go down in history. This is wrong during the pandemic period," he said.
Recent data from the Istanbul Municipality revealed that one out of every seven Istanbulite applied to receive financial aid from the municipality. While some 682,697 applications were made, 10.6 percent of households in Istanbul were granted financial aid.
The Istanbul Municipality's Science Committee warned against early relaxing of COVID-19 precautions as the country begins normalization. The municipality criticized the reopening of shopping malls, hair salons and barber shops, and the start of the national soccer league.
Surgical masks will now be mandatory on Istanbul's central Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue that leads to it, and a three-meters distance will be required between pedestrians. The district governor's office also said that the violation of both measures will be penalized by monetary fines.
A cyber attack targeting Istanbul Municipality's aid campaign website has disrupted its efforts. "We had to close access to our website because of an attack last night," spokesperson Murat Ongun said in a tweet on May 7. According to Ongun, a total of 41,883 bills were paid, amounting to 5,027,092 Turkish Liras.
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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
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.
A missile was fired into the sky on Oct. 16 on Turkey's Black Sea coast where the military was expected to test its Russian-made S-400 defense systems, according to local video obtained by Reuters. "If confirmed, we would condemn in the strongest terms the S-400 test missile launch as incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO  Ally and strategic partner of the United States," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
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.
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.
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.
CHP deputy Mustafa Adıgüzel has found a lost letter penned by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey's founding father, to a U.S. child called Curtis La France. "My advice to the intelligent and hardworking children of the U.S. is to not perceive everything they hear about Turks as true and attach importance to basing their opinions on scientific and sound examinations. I wish you success and happiness," Atatürk said in the letter.
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.