Turkey coronavirus
The Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions urged all employers March 31 to temporarily ban layoffs to prevent unemployment during the coronavirus outbreak. The confederation also called for a 15-day pause in production, except for urgent goods, and for the allocation of Turkey’s unemployment fund to workers in need.
Izmir mayor Tunç Soyer from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) joined Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu in urging the government in Ankara to declare a lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. While İmamoğlu has not specified a timeline for the lockdown he was suggesting for Istanbul, Soyer said that a two-week lockdown in Izmir would be beneficial.
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar said that the party will establish an Alternative Science Commission that will convey reliable information to the public. "The society needs reliable information above all else. A center that puts the people's security at its core must be formed. The most urgent need is to protect the society," Sancar said.
Istanbul police raided a coronavirus-themed party March 29, dismissing a crowd of about 100 and detaining some 12 people. “We’re detaining them on charges of ‘disobeying preventions targeted at contagious diseases,’” police said.
Taxis will now be allowed out in traffic every other day in Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara starting March 30, Turkey’s Interior Ministry said March 29. Taxis with license plates that end in an odd number will be allowed in traffic on the first day of the rule, while taxis with license plates that end in even numbers will be allowed in traffic the next, effectively cutting the number of taxis in traffic by half.
duvar englis podcasts
In the second episode of ‘Zeitgeist Turkey’, Duvar English’s Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki talk about the the shortfalls of the economic shield package of the government and survival mode in Turkish society set off by the coronavirus outbreak. They also discuss the political implications of sudden removal of the Transport Minister from his post following mounting criticism for holding the first tender for controversial Kanal Istanbul project last week.
Turkey's deaths from the coronavirus increased by 23 to 131 on March 29, as the number of confirmed cases rose by 1,815 to 9,217, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. He added that 9,982 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Turkey to 65,446 since the outbreak begun.
A group of prominent Turkish academics have urged the government to announce an extraordinary spending program to tackle the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "The state should prepare an extraordinary spending program. It should include support for medical expenditures," the statement read. "Public and private hospitals must provide health services free of charge and the hospitals failing to abide by this must be deprivatized," it added.
Turkey halted intercity trains and limited domestic flights on March 28. In a notice detailing travel restrictions, the Interior Ministry said all citizens must remain in the cities they reside in and could only leave with a doctor's note, in the event of the death of a family member or if they have no accommodation.
Hacı Bişkin reports: A non-governmental organization that defends prisoners' rights, Turkey’s Civil Society in the Penal System (CISST), received an overwhelming number of complaints from inmates about coronavirus precautions. Inmates mostly complained about the over-capacity occupancy, the lack of social distancing and hygiene supplies.
Nuray Pehlivan reports: Thousands of migrants who remain at Turkey’s borders in hopes of crossing over to Europe are now being told to leave the area due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ankara’s recent instructions about the coronavirus directly contradict their Feb. 28 decision that allowed migrants crossings, leaving them once again in limbo.
Persons who die from coronavirus-related complications are buried in coffins in Istanbul and the communal funeral prayers before the burial are eliminated, an official from the provincial cemeteries directorate said. While morticians now wear personal protective equipment, burial spots aren't lined with lime.
Pharmacists in Turkey's capital Ankara are experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment, Chair of Ankara's Pharmacists Chamber Taner Ercanlı said. "Our colleagues don't have masks to wear themselves, let alone to sell," Ercanlı said.
A 91-year-old Turkish man has recovered from the coronavirus after 10 days of treatment in London's Homerton University Hospital, Turkey's Chief of Cabinet to The President Hasan Doğan said March 25. The 91 year old is reportedly from the southern province of Kahramanmaraş, but lives in London.
A male patient in the southern province of Denizli escaped the hospital where he was awaiting his coronavirus test results. Police found Murat E. walking on a nearby street and called an ambulance to transport him back to the hospital.
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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
GastroAntep's opening ceremony featured a sparse number of chairs that were separated in accordance with social distancing measures, and the wearing of masks was enforced. That didn't stop a feast featuring some of the most beloved regional delicacies from being served. Amid the festivities, the elephant in the room was the country's increasingly-dire coronavirus epidemic that has spread to all major cities.
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.
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.