Turkish politics
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has responded to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's accusations on CHP municipalities acting similar to "terrorist organizations," saying that they keep their silence for the good of the people. "For now, we're hearing the harsh accusations coming behind us, but keep going without saying anything. We don't have time to lose with the people shouting behind us. We keep running forward for the people," İmamoğlu said.
İYİ Party deputy Aytun Çıray has asked Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to explain the reasons for why an unusual increase in the number of deaths took place in Istanbul this year compared to last year. "In 2019, the number of people who died in Istanbul between March 11 and April 15 is 7,710. The number is 10,317 in the same time period in 2020. It can be clearly seen that it's not an ordinary increase," he said.
Government spokesperson Ömer Çelik has said that the coronavirus measures may be lifted gradually after Eid al-Fitr, which ends on May 26, if precautions are abided by. "We're thinking of lifting limitations gradually," he said, adding that some 25,000 Turkish citizens abroad wanted to return to Turkey to spend Eid al-Fitr in the country. "They will be brought to Turkey. It's a source of pride when the practices in other countries are examined," Çelik said.
The HDP has filed a complaint against Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency over a story on n "a woman, who got married at the age of 14, waiting for her husband to get out of jail," saying that it normalizes and promotes child sexual abuse. "Making the marriage of a 14-year-old child seem legitimate is without a doubt a crime and shouldn't be left unpunished," the HDP said.
DEVA Party leader Ali Babacan has said that Turkey shouldn't rule out borrowing loans from the international institutions, saying that it should choose cheap IMF loans over high-cost borrowing from markets. "Turkey has the right to use them with unconditional 1 percent interest. Instead of going to the markets and paying 7 percent, we can get loans from these institutions with 1 percent," he said.
Mümtaz Şenel, mayor of the Yeşilova district of the southwestern province of Burdur who is known with his efforts to protect Lake Salda, dubbed "Turkey's Maldives," and his wife Fatma Şenel were shot by unknown assailants, who reportedly told the couple that they were police officers, at around 4:30 a.m. The couple were taken to a hospital and two people were detained over the incident.
The Adana Provincial Health Directorate has sealed a field hospital constructed by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) off over "not being sanitary." According to the directorate, a license application was not filed by the municipality before its construction.
Mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı has thanked MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, who is a close friend of his, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a bill that paved the way for his release. He also called on the newly-released prisoners to act responsibly amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Interior Ministry has launched a probe into Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu over the municipality's donation campaign against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to İmamoğlu, the block on the donations has been ongoing. "If you see a wrong procedure, you can launch an investigation into the Istanbul Mayor, but you can't block the citizens' donations," he said.
Notorious mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı, whose ties to the deep state and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are known, was released from prison on April 16 as part of a bill that allows some 90,000 convicts and arrestees to be freed in a bid to ease overcrowding in jails in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Journalists and political prisoners, however, won't be released since they were excluded from the bill.
Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that the heads of all the AKP provincial organizations wanted to resign when he quit his role as prime minister in 2016. "This is the first time I'm saying this. All the provincial groups said, 'Allow us to hand our resignations as well.' Selim Temurci, then AKP Istanbul provincial head, said, 'We approved your party leadership nine months ago. All the provincial heads will resign. We stand with you,'" he said.
Singer Şükriye Tutkun and art director Yudum Yontan, two neighbors of Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun and his wife Fatmanur Altun, has come to their defense over reports of his illegal construction in Istanbul's Kuzguncuk neighborhood. They said that the land that the construction was made was a dump where drug addicts were dwelling in, hence finding the construction a positive move for the neighborhood.
Turkey began releasing prisoners under tight security on April 15 after passing a bill on releasing thousands of convicts and arrestees to ease overcrowding in prisons in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). A day earlier, Erdoğan praised the law over "meeting the expectations of the citizens at a higher rate regarding the manifestation of justice," despite criticism of it for leaving politicians and journalists out.
Haydar Baş, the leader of the Independent Turkey Party (BTP), died at the age of 73 on April 14 at a hospital that he was receiving treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Black Sea province of Trabzon. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered condolences to Baş's family.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca had a serious argument over the former's short-notice coronavirus curfew announcement, pro-government daily Hürriyet columnist Hande Fırat said on April 14. The ministers reportedly talked on the phone on April 11, a day after Soylu announced that a curfew will be imposed in 31 provinces on the weekend.
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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.
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.
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.