prisons
780 children are behind bars with their mothers, Turkey's Human Rights in Mental Health Initiative Association (RUHİSAK) reported. Meanwhile, an additional 10,000 experience some jail time annually, while another 120,000 deal with legal procedures.
The Van branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) has determined that three penal facilities in the eastern province are guilty of numerous rights violations. Cleaning materials were found to be limited and insufficient while prisoners were only able to access gloves, masks, disinfectant and wet napkins by purchasing them at high prices.
Imprisoned columnist from daily Yeni Çağ is being refused healthcare despite his grievances, his lawyer said. The journalist has reportedly been refused a visit to the infirmary for 20 days, and one to the doctor in 10 days.
A parliamentary question inquiring about the number of personal applications made to the Justice Ministry about prison torture incidents was left unanswered. Instead, the Justice Ministry noted the existence of a committee that "meticulously inspects" and "swiftly takes necessary" action about torture incidents.
Amnesty International started a campaign to urge Turkey's Justice Ministry to release journalists, opposition politicians and activists from prison amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The NGO noted that jailed prominent novelist Ahmet Altan and imprisoned businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala are both over 60, and former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, has been suffering from a heart condition in prison.
A deputy from the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said that inmates from the southeastern Bayburt Prison reported being given one mask to share among eight of them and a lack of hot water for the past two months. Inmates also reported prison guards who come in close contact with the inmates, violating COVID-19 measures.
Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM) ruled that ten prisoners' right to free communication was violated when their letters were confiscated. The letters had been about rights violations in prisons in Turkey, and had been confiscated on the grounds that they were detrimental to the prisons.
Hacı Bişkin reports: Istanbul's Silivri prison, which houses 23,000 inmates, has the highest number of prisoners who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus of any penal institution in Turkey. According to the testimony of one prisoner, 39 prisoners with the virus are being held in the same dormitory-style ward.
Turkey’s social services experts and politicians agree that incarcerated minors are under increased risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the government should make an organized effort to protect them. Suggestions varied from releasing incarcerated children altogether to allowing unlimited phone calls.
Inmates at southeastern Urfa prison have been reporting a serious shortage of cleaning supplies and a lack of precautions against COVID-19, a pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) deputy said. Prison guards also reportedly violate social distancing measures during their ward searches that they conduct in groups twice a week.
Turkey's Justice Minister Gül has said that 120 inmates in four different prisons have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Gül said that none of the 120 inmates are in intensive care units and they are all in good health.
A Turkish court has rejected an emergency plea filed for former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş's release amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Demirtaş's doctor had previously told Gazete Duvar that the renowned politician is particularly vulnerable to the pandemic due to his hypertension and chronic respiratory tract disease.
Selin Sayek Böke writes: The government’s opportunism is striking in the amnesty law. The permanent nature of its amendments is obvious. Just like it had with the 2016 coup attempt, the regime has used the outbreak of the COVID-19 as a “Gift from God.” The bills they pass do not aim at governance but at punishing. Those convicted for leading organized crime will be freed, while those that have pushed for civil society to enhance democracy will remain in jail!
Jailed former Diyarbakir Mayor from pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selçuk Mızraklı was denied a petition to be released during the COVID-19 outbreak, to which he's particulary vulnerable due to a chronic heart condition. The Diyarbakir court refused to release Mızraklı on the grounds that his arrest and sentencing involved "special circumstances" and that there was no way to assure safety of his ongoing trial.
Three inmates in Turkey’s open prisons have died from COVID-19, while 17 others were diagnosed with the virus, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said April 13. All cases were in “open prisons” where inmates aren’t held in cells, with no cases seen in other correctional facilities, Gül noted.
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Şenay Aydemir writes: It seems like Netflix, rather than providing resources to Turkey and contributing to the advancement of the sector, chooses to work with producers that already have a strong share in the market. Though the Netflix Turkey team claims they are open to all kinds of projects and ideas, they are obviously more open to certain ideas, projects and production companies.
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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.
Politics
Turkey's southernmost province of Hatay was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 and authorities said that two militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were nabbed following the blast. Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan said that the two militants were a part of a group of four who had flown from the Syrian town of Manbij to the Amanos Mountains in Hatay using paramotors.
A report prepared by a number of civil society organizations regarding trials in Turkey prosecuting conscientious objectors to mandatory military service in the country has influenced the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to pressure Turkey on recognizing the right to conscientious objection.
President Erdoğan and the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar on Oct. 26 voiced their support for a two-state solution on the divided island of Cyprus. "We believe a two-state solution must now be brought to the table with a realistic proposal," Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also said that he would visit Turkish Cyprus on Nov. 15 and expressed his desire to have a picnic at Varosha.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 78 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed and dozens more were injured in Russian airstrikes on a military training camp in Idlib. Those targeted were in a camp belonging to Faylaq al-Sham, the monitor said, adding that it was the deadliest attack since the ceasefire came into force in March.
The second indictment against human rights defender and businessman Osman Kavala presents no new grounds to justify his detention and is politically motivated, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged the UNESCO to release its report on the restoration works in the iconic Hagia Sophia as soon as possible. Lavrov said that for Russia Hagia Sophia is particularly valuable from the spiritual point of view.
Twenty-eight of Istanbul's 39 districts have registered more than 50 percent increase in COVID-19 infections in the past week compared to the average of this month, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. “The increase rate is 50-60 percent in 11 districts, 60-70 percent in 10 districts, and 70-80 percent in seven districts,” he told reporters on Oct. 26.
A Canadian vehicle manufacturer has suspended the delivery of aircraft engines to Turkey in the wake of reports that some of those engines are being used on Turkish combat drones deployed by Azerbaijan in its conflict against Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Former main opposition CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has appealed to the Constitutional Court following two lower courts' refusal to retry him over violations of his rights to participate in politics and personal freedom.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a worker to enjoy a nice cup of tea as the latter complained of not being able to bring home bread. Erdoğan said that the worker's plea sounded like a huge exaggeration, evoking infamous French ruler Marie-Antoinette who told the people to eat cake if they can't find bread.
A dynamite blast in the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant damaged cars that were parked in the nearby lot, ANKA News Agency reported on Oct. 25. Locals have complained from the use of dynamite in the construction before, saying that the dust harms their crops, and the blasts have even cracked the walls of their homes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has challenged the United States on a sanctions threat over Ankara’s support to Baku in its clashes with Armenia. "You [Americans] do not know who you are playing with. Go ahead with your sanctions," Erdoğan said. He also slammed the U.S. for not delivering promised F-35 fighter jets.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that Baku would use Turkish F-16 jets in case of an external attack on the country. "They've been asking me about why Turkish F-16s are here. I'm tired of answering. Everyone knows that the F-16s are waiting. They came here for a drill and our Turkish brothers kept them here for moral support. They'll see those F-16s if there is an external attack on us," Aliyev said.
Mehmet Ayışığı is a well-known and well-liked figure in Istanbul's Kurtuluş neighborhood, wandering the streets and calling out to customers with his signature voice. After Ayışığı's cart was confiscated by the Şişli Municipality due to noise complaints, area residents marched together with the vendor in a gesture of solidarity against police.
Known for its lush natural beauty, the environmental integrity of the town of Şavşat is under threat due to a hydroelectric power plant, where construction is due to continue despite being previously blocked by a regional court. “The people of the area are very determined. They will definitely not allow the construction of a hydroelectric power plant,” said Tahsin Yazıcı of the Kireçli village, saying that the villagers would use their democratic rights.
Turkish law enforcement detained some 38 journalists in the first eight months of 2020, a report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) revealed. Meanwhile, access to 53 news stories and 75 websites was blocked. Charges of insulting the president resulted in the detention of 24 people, the arrest of three and an investigation into one person.
Istanbul police violently detained around 40 members of a pro-Kurdish youth union involving pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) Youth Assembly, Mesopotamia Agency reported on Oct. 25. Police claimed that a banner held up by demonstrators was criminal on the grounds that it displayed a photo of İbrahim Kaypakkaya, a deceased Turkish leftist.
Economy
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that the economy is growing despite the tumbling Turkish Lira. The lira weakened to a record low on Oct. 26, hit by investor unease over the central bank's decision last week to keep its policy rate on hold and various sources of geopolitical concern. Strains in ties with the United States, a row with France, a dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime rights and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh have all unsettled investors.
Turkish monthly inflation was almost four times greater than the official rate in September, according to a new model developed by a group of academics and researchers. According to the independent Inflation Research Group (ENAG)'s first published finding, consumer prices in September rose 3.61 percent from the previous month, compared to the official Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK)'s calculation of 0.97 percent increase.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
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.
Urban Beat
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
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.