Turkish parliament passes bill to release thousands from prison, leaves journalists, politicians out
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 reveals pro-gov’t trolls’ setup to smear opposition with public transportation
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.