The AKP has withdrawn a clause on requiring foreign social media companies with high internet traffic to appoint a representative in the country to address concerns raised by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."
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.
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.
Opposition leader urges coronavirus commission to quit if their suggestions are not followed by Turkish gov’t
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.