Turkish politics
HDP deputy Garo Paylan has asked Health Minister Fahrettin Koca the reason for why only 500 tests were carried out in the past 27 days in Diyarbakır. "Is discrimination the case when distributing tests to Diyarbakır and other provinces in the region?" Paylan, who is a Diyarbakır lawmaker, said in his parliamentary question following reports on the issue.
Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop announced the cancellation of April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day celebrations over the coronavirus pandemic that killed over 600 people in the country. "We had to postpone the celebrations that people would gather on April 23. Let's sing the national anthem at 9 p.m. on April 23 in our homes," Şentop said on April 6.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a complaint against journalist Fatih Portakal over lying and using statements that aim to manipulate people on social media. Following Erdoğan's remarks on a series of orders issued during Turkey's War of Independence, Portakal questioned whether money will be asked from those have deposits or savings, prompting Erdoğan to sue him.
Ayhan Sefer Üstün from the newly-founded Future Party likened the coronavirus process in Turkey to the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt in terms of the government's authoritarian tendencies. "The society is being tried to enter a new authoritarian environment via making coronavirus an excuse," Üstün, a former deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told Duvar on April 7.
The CHP has called on the government to include political prisoners in a judicial reform bill that will lead to the release of thousands of convicts and prisoners. "Judges have been issuing arrest rulings under political pressure. This exterior pressure applies for the cases of prisoners of thought, political prisoners and some terror arrestees," the CHP said.
According to a poll submitted to main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, some 84 percent of the Turkish citizens reportedly support a curfew against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The participants were also asked about the problems that Turkey needs to solve urgently. The pandemic topped the list, with 46 percent saying that it's the most urgent issue.
İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener has said that her maid tested positive for coronavirus, prompting her and her husband to undergo tests, which resulted negative. Akşener noted that the team that she works closely also underwent tests in the capital Ankara and their results were also negative. "I've been mostly home since then," she said, adding that she couldn't see her newborn granddaughter Ayda because of the pandemic.
CHP deputy Ali Mahir Başarır criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for forbidding the CHP to collect donations, but allowing İsmailağa religious cult to do so. "It seems that the İsmailağa Association has the authority and permission to collect donations and share their bank account numbers," Başarır said amid a debate on collecting donations to be used in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that more than two million workers in Turkey have lost their jobs due to measures taken to contain the coronavirus outbreak. "They had to start a campaign to keep people home. This current campaign has only led to one thing: unemployment," he said. "They will get unemployment wages from the unemployment fund for a short time, but there are no guarantees after that," he added.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş's doctor has urged his patient to be released from prison, saying his health problems make him vulnerable against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "Demirtaş is among one of the groups that's under highest risk. Prison conditions bear major risks in terms of getting infected," Cegerxun Polat told Duvar.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed municipalities run by the main opposition CHP for launching donation campaigns to collect money to be used in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic., saying "There is no point in being a state within the state." Eleven CHP metropolitan municipalities, meanwhile, released a statement on April 1, saying that it's legal for the municipalities to accept donations.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has praised Turkey for sending medical aid to Spain and Italy, the countries worst hit by the novel coronavirus in Europe, saying that he is proud to see NATO allies supporting each other through the alliance's disaster relief center. "#NATO solidarity in action: Turkey sending a cargo plane with medical supplies to Italy & Spain today to support our joint fight against #COVID19," said Stoltenberg on Twitter on April 1.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu has slammed the government's penal reform package for excluding politicians and activists. Calling on the government to prepare a new draft bill that includes citizens imprisoned on political grounds, Tanrıkulu questioned the reason for why precautions adopted around the world to prevent prisoners from being infected with coronavirus aren't implemented in Turkey.
Opposition Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener has said that she donated money to Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu's campaigns that were launched to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), as she also slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for launching a campaign to collect donations from Turkish citizens to contain the impact of the pandemic.
Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun has shared a video showing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan listening to the Muslim call to prayer in Granada. "May Allah make us reach days that we perform prayers in mosques altogether, shoulder to shoulder," Altun 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.
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.