Turkish politics
The AKP has withdrawn a clause on requiring foreign social media companies with high internet traffic to appoint a representative in the country to address concerns raised by authorities over content on their platforms. Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Garo Paylan commented on the withdrawal decision, saying that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan "will try to pass the law at the earliest opportunity."
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.
Currently a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and a hawkish politician on the Kurdish issue, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's political life has seen dramatic changes. Before joining the AKP, Soylu was known for his harsh criticisms against the party and Erdoğan. "People have forgotten how to smile as a result of the AKP government's wrong economic policies. They made Turkey face crisis with their inabilities and incompetence. They are covered in corruption," he said before joining the AKP.
AKP-ally MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has said that his party is "highly content" with President Erdoğan's decision to reject Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's resignation. "The MHP is highly content with the fact that the resignation was rejected," Bahçeli said in a tweet early on April 13.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has rejected Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's resignation shortly after the minister said that he was stepping down following widespread criticism of his decision to announce a curfew just two hours before its beginning. "The holder of an office has the discretion to resign but the final decision belongs to our President. Our Interior Minister's resignation has not been accepted, he will continue his duty," Presidential Communications Directorate said.
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.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca was reportedly not aware of the decision to impose a two-day curfew on 31 provinces. Members of the Health Ministry's Science Commission were also reportedly not notified of the curfew beforehand, prompting them to hand their resignations to Koca. "If you quit, you would be leaving Turkey alone in its struggle against the coronavirus," daily Yeniçağ cited Koca as telling Science Commission members.
İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener has urged members of the Science Commission to resign from their duties if their suggestions in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic are not implemented by the ruling AKP. "The suggestions of the Science Commission depend on the Erdoğan. We know that the commission asked for a full quarantine. It should have been implemented, but Erdoğan rejected it," Akşener said in an interview.
Turkey sent medical equipment to Israel to help the country with its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg cited a senior Turkish official in Ankara as saying on April 9. According to Bloomberg, the official also said that Turkey will donate medical aid for the Palestinians within the next few days. The country also sent medical aid packages to the U.K. on April 10.
A deputy in parliament said that jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker İdris Baluken can die in prison, Özgür Özel, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Group Deputy Chair said during a debate on a prisoner release bill. Now, when we ask whether he should die in prison, the answer is 'They can.' Someone said 'He can die' at the back," Özel also said, while refraining from naming the lawmaker.
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.
Diyanet head Ali Erbaş has said that he gave a list of names, including experts on psychology and sociology of religion, to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca in order for them to be included in the Social Sciences Commission, of which the formation was announced by the minister on April 7 as part of the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic.
Satellite images taken near Istanbul's Atatürk Airport showed that a pandemic hospital is being built on a land near the now-unused airport and not on it. The images contradict President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks on a pandemic hospital being built on the airport. According to Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, the land that construction began belongs to the General Directorate of National Estate.
Sick inmates in Turkey are being denied treatment, with their relatives urging authorities to act egalitarian regarding a bill that would release thousands of prisoners and convicts and that excludes political prisoners amid the coronavirus pandemic. There are a total of 1,333 sick prisoners in the country, with 457 of them severely ill, according to the Human Rights Association.
Diyarbakır Governor's Office said on April 8 that five civilians were killed in a PKK attack in the province's Kulp district. Security forces launched an operation to apprehend those involved in the attack, it also said.
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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.
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.
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.