Turkey coronavirus
Turkey's parliament on April 14 passed a law that will allow the release of tens of thousands of prisoners, but which critics slam for excluding those jailed on terrorism charges, mainly journalists and politicians. The opposition points out that 'terror' has taken on a broad meaning in Turkey, essentially used as a way to criminalize any opponent of the government.
The plight of the refugees in Turkey continues as authorities have been taking them to a coast in Çanakkale to encourage them to cross into Greece. "Police have dropped us here and left. We are out in the open. There's no food or drinks. No one is coming. They told us that we can cross into Greece from where they dropped us, but there's no road here," a refugee told Duvar.
The COVID-19 isolation triggers post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety for children living in the Sur district of Diyarbakır since it reminds them of the months-long curfews imposed in 2015. “The first thing kids ask us on the phone is ‘What’s wrong outside?’ They’re worried that they’re not being told the whole truth,” Ezra Elbistan, the chair of the Colorful Hopes Association, told Duvar.
Nail Noğay, the Family and Social Policies Ministry's Istanbul Provincial Deputy Manager, caused uproar on Twitter late on April 8 after telling a Roma woman complaining about hunger and poverty to die. While Noğay deleted his post due to backlash, the ministry released a statement on the issue, saying that he was sacked and a probe was launched into him.
Turkey's Health Ministry last week approved the use of plasma therapy to treat the novel coronavirus. The treatment works by taking donated blood from someone who has recovered from the virus and giving it to a critically ill patient. The technique was for the first time applied on a patient in the eastern province of Malatya on April 5.
Ankara University Biotechnology Institute Director Aykut Özkul has succeeded in isolating the COVID-19 virus, which is the first step to create a vaccine and medication against it. “This is just the beginning. We are determined and ambitious. A Turkish scientist has isolated the virus!” said the institute in a tweet April 5.
During these unusual times, life in the world’s largest cities has come to a screeching halt and Istanbul’s Istiklal Street is no exception. The only people walking on the street, lined with closed shops, are tourists and locals who have urgent business.
Anyone who violates the required 14-day self isolation following international travels, as well as anyone attempting to escape from to their quarantine location will now be subject to a search warrant issued in their name. The first example of such a warrant was issued for an individual from Istanbul’s Ümraniye district, whose search warrant declares they are “wanted for disseminating a contagious disease.”
Governor's offices across Turkey continue to adopt measures to curb the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID-19), with Diyarbakır Governor's Office banning cemetery visits due to being incompatible with social isolation and distancing. In Istanbul, meanwhile, working hours of pharmacies were shortened.
Istanbul Municipality has shared “digital data” on the public transportation buses claimed to be overcrowded by pro-government trolls despite calls for social distancing amid the coronavirus (COVID-19), saying that they were used by the people who had never used them before when the pictures were taken. According to the municipality, majority of those seen in the pictures don't take the buses in question in their daily lives.
The Izmir Medical Chamber was banned from sharing links from their own website on their social media accounts March 31. The social media websites involved did not notify the users of any ban, and the chamber called for the block to be removed swiftly.
Turkey’s parliament will start checking visitors’ body temperatures with no-contact thermometers, an official notice said March 30. While the ruling targets visitors only, lawmakers will be eligible for a body temperature check as well if they wish.
Istanbul police raided a men-only game club/coffee house March 31, fining the 26 guests and detaining the owner. The business was sealed off as it lacked a trade license and was operating in violation of COVID-19 precautions.
Turkey has a shortage of about 15,000 critical care nurses who are essential for COVID-19 treatment, Critical Care Nurses Association warned. While the Health Ministry promised to appoint 11,000 nurses to combat the coronavirus outbreak, association chair Ebru Kıraner notes that these nurses will not be ready to fill in during the crisis.
Residents of Turkey’s villages under quarantine claim that coronavirus was introduced to their population by pilgrims returning from Umrah, or visitors from Istanbul. Villages in the western Marmara region, the northern Black Sea region, central Anatolia and the southeast of the country were placed under quarantine to slow the spread of Covid-19.
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duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
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.
Politics
DEVA chair Ali Babacan has criticized the government's new three-year economic program, saying he did not see it including any “concrete steps” which will economically provide a relief to the people. Babacan also said that with this new program, the government has admitted to Turkey being impoverished since he left the position of deputy prime minister in 2015.
Turkey's Constitutional Court on Sept. 29 postponed its decision to review Osman Kavala's appeal with regards to his ongoing arrest, citing the impending indictment against the philanthropist. Just a couple of hours after the Constitutional Court's statement, Istanbul prosecutors submitted the new indictment against Kavala to the relevant court, concerning “espionage” charges.
Istanbul prosecutors have dismissed a case against CHP Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu, who was being sued by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aide Fahrettin Altun in a dispute concerning an illegal construction undertaken in Istanbul's Üsküdar district.
Murat Gezenler, the head of a Salafi association, has said that the number of Salafis in Turkey is much higher than what is stated in the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) reports. Gezenler also said that one of the differences between his association and ISIS is that the latter accepts Turks as Muslims, whereas they don't.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Group Deputy Chair Saruhan Oluç said that the government was trying to create "a Turkey without the HDP" with its mass detentions. Dozens of HDP members were detained last week in relation to the 2014 Kobane protests.
Turkish Parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop has said that he believes in reintroduction of death penalty for certain crimes, a proposal suggested by far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli earlier in September. "I am of the opinion that death penalty could be considered for premediated murder and sexual abuses committed against minors and women,” Şentop said on Sept. 29.
Turkish state and university hospitals are offering to repay debts totalling some 19 billion lira ($2.43 billion) to drugmakers and medical equipment firms, but with a discount, Reuters reported on Sept. 29.
Turkey's Human Rights Association revealed that 20 inmates died in prison in Turkey during the first nine months of 2020. Data also showed that there are currently 1,605 sick prisoners in Turkey, 604 of which are seriously ill.
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that he doesn't care about exchange rates and that he doesn't follow them, as the Turkish Lira plumbed to new lows on Sept. 29. Albayrak's comments came after he unveiled the country's new economic program for 2021-2023 based on themes of "new stabilization, new normal, and the new economy." The minister said the Turkish economy is projected to grow 0.3 percent this year.
A man who stabbed and killed his neighbor's dog and injured two others was released by an Istanbul court. Due to a lack of legal protection for animal rights in Turkey, the attacker Faruk Ö. was charged with property damage.
The downfall of cruise tourism has benefited Turkey's ship recyclers as multi-million-dollar ships are scrapped at the Aegean Izmir facility. The recyclers expect almost one million tonnes of scraps this year.
Students in the eastern province of Kars asked the government for help in a video where they're seen doing classwork on a barren hill, the only spot where they can access the internet. Former main opposition deputy Barış Yarkadaş noted that remote education wasn't as effective as the government made it seem.
The publisher and editor-in-chief of a local daily were arrested on slander charges in the western province of Koceali two days after running a story about a “rape gang” in the district. While the story accused local officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of assaulting a minor, the prosecutor’s office ruled the suspects mentioned “were not involved” in the incident.
The total number of COVID-19 deaths in Turkey surpassed 8,000 as 65 patients died on Sept. 28, Health Ministry data revealed. Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca noted that the number of recovered patients was higher than the number of new diagnoses for the first time in a while.
The Kars governor's office announced on Sept. 28 that it banned all “demonstrations and activities” for a period of 15 days until Oct. 12. The ban came into effect just hours before HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan's planned rally in the province, in support of Kars mayor Ayhan Bilgen who was among those taken into custody in simultaneous police raids last week.
A group led by forensic science expert and human rights defender Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincancı won the elections for the leadership of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB). Fincancı is now expected to be elected the leader of the association in the upcoming meeting.
A women's prison in southeast Turkey banned a book that was co-authored by the chairman of Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM). The book that was found "suspicious" by the prison is about freedom of expression.
The New York Times reported on Sept. 28 that Trump Towers Istanbul has netted U.S. President Donald Trump $1 million in 2016 and 2017. Trump has long had business ties in and with Turkey, the most visible example being the Trump Towers Istanbul, which licenses the Trump name.
Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into Tele1 TV editor-in-chief Merdan Yanardağ over his reports that Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman paid a visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following his wedding ceremony. The court ruled for Yanardağ's release, but imposed judicial control measures involving regularly reporting at his local police station as well as overseas travel ban.
Halk TV, a broadcaster that's critical of the government, blacked out on Sept. 28 following a ruling from Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK). The five-day blackout is a first in the council's history, as such harsh sanctions haven't been issued before.
Economy
A jaw dropping 95 percent of a fund established to develop Turkey's internet infrastructure has disappeared, a main opposition deputy said. Some 1.5 billion liras were collected for the fund in 2019, but 1.4 billion of that has vanished, Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir said.
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
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.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
Urban Beat
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.
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
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.