Turkish government
Istanbul 23rd Heavy Penal Court on June 22 imposed a publication ban on the trial into the summoning of Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan to testify by the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen on Feb. 7, 2012. The testimonies in the case were expected to reveal significant information regarding Turkey's recent history.
A Turkish court has blocked access to forum pages on First Lady Emine Erdoğan's Hermes handbag that created controversy in the country due to its high price. Another topic that the court blocked was on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son Bilal Erdoğan being confused during a telephone call that was leaked in 2013.
Turkish people tipped off prosecutors once in every three minutes last year, according to a report prepared by CHP deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi, showing the extent that tipping off people have become in the country. According to the report, the increase in the numbers began when the country switched to an executive presidential system on July 9, 2018, replacing a 95-year-old parliamentary system.
Bar association heads have launched a sit-in after police prevented them from entering the capital Ankara to end their Defense March. According to Mehmet Baran Selanik from İzmir Bar, a police officer punched Antep Bar head Bektaş Şarklı. Police also tried to detain Ordu Bar head Haluk Murat Poyraz, but lawyers prevented police from doing so.
At least five people were killed in floods caused by heavy rains in the northwestern province of Bursa, officials said on June 22. The floods occurred in Kestel district, which has paralyzed life in the rural neighborhoods of Dudaklı, Narlıdere, Aksu and Kayacık.
Bar associations have begun marching to the capital Ankara to protest the government's increasing pressure on them. The move came after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) intensified its efforts to amend the law on changing bar associations' election systems in what critics say an effort to increase the number of pro-government figures in bars.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has once again targeted a journalist over a report revealing nepotism in the municipality in the Black Sea province of Trabzon that's run by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Soylu, who on May 18 targeted journalist Müyesser Yıldız - who was arrested a short while later - on Twitter, praised the couple in the story, while slamming journalist Saygı Öztürk.
Kurdish issue-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has said that its Democracy March is a call to all powers seeking freedom. "This great will and belief will definitely reach its aim. We saw this great power everywhere," HDK co-spokesperson Sedat Şenoğlu said upon the march's arrival at the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
Former national security adviser John Bolton has claimed that U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to intervene in a federal investigation into Halkbank upon President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's request. Trump agreed to "take care of things" and said the prosecutors from the Southern District of New York were "Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people."
The Swedish telecommunications company Telia has announced that it is engaging in negotiations to sell its 47 percent stake in Turkey's major mobile operator Turkcell to the Turkey Wealth Fund (TVF). The stake is planned to be sold for $530 million. Turkcell Holding is owned by Telia and two other companies, and the holding controls 51 percent of Turkcell's shares.
A high-ranking Turkish delegation visited Tripoli on June 17, with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as the head, accompanied by Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, Chief of Intelligence Hakan Fidan. Upon the Turkish delegation's arrival back in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu said that they discussed a lasting ceasefire and political solution in Libya, as well as energy cooperation, during their visit.
An explosion has hit the Turkey-Russia joint patrol in Syria's Idlib and no injuries were reported, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on June 16. . As a result of the explosion on the route of the convoy, one Russian armored personnel carrier has received minor damage," TASS cited the spokesman as saying.
Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Pervin Buldan has deemed stripping deputies of their parliamentary statuses and sacking mayors from the HDP "a political coup." "This country has been struggling against coups for many years. Millions have stood against the coups. However, what the AKP does is a political coup. It's seizing people's wills," Buldan said.
Turkish officials have been offering conflicting statements on coronavirus deaths in prisons. There are indeed inmates who have died in jail after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to lawyer Şule Recepoğlu from the Human Rights Association prison commission.
Turkey is blocking the implementation of new defense plans for eastern Europe in NATO over the status of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), German Press Agency reported on June 15. Turkey wants the YPG and the PYD to be designated as terrorist organizations in exchange for its support.
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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.