Van
The death toll from a migrant boat disaster in Lake Van in eastern Turkey has risen to 60. Lake Van is near Turkey's border with Iran, from where migrants from Iran, Afghanistan and other countries regularly cross into Turkey heading west towards Europe.
Seven police officers were killed after their reconnaissance plane crashed in a mountain in the eastern province of Van, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said early July 16. The 2015 model-plane had been carrying out reconnaissance and surveillance in Van and Hakkari provinces since July 13, said Soylu.
A government-appointed trustee, who last year replaced democratically elected HDP co-mayors of the İpekyolu municipality of Van, has instructed the municipality employees to attend July 15, 2016 coup attempt commemoration ceremonies. HDP MP Muazzez Orhan said that this move shows "the real mentality of the trustee, the AKP's oppressive mentality."
A lawyer from Van Bar Association Migration and Asylum Commission said that the death toll in the migrant boat accident in Lake Van is unknown. "Unfortunately we don't have enough information about the boat that sank in Van Lake over the weekend. The Van Bar Association hasn't received a public defender request for the boat yet."
Turkish rescue teams on June 30 recovered five bodies after a boat believed to be carrying migrants capsized in eastern Turkey's Lake Van. Habertürk said that over 50 people could have been on the boat when it went missing on June 27.
Turkey's government agencies are violating shorelines law by building holiday resorts on the banks of southeastern Van Lake, a local environmental activist said. Law mandates that beaches and shorelines are used for the public good, with the natural character of the site in mind.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 struck Turkey's southeastern province of Van on June 25. The quake hit Van's Özalp district at 1:03 p.m. local time at a depth of 6.9 kilometers, according to Turkey's National Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
Turkish security forces have reportedly killed a 20-year-old man for smuggling cigarettes in the southeastern province of Van. "Is death the punishment for buying two cartons of smuggled cigarettes from the border?” Görür's cousin Engin Görür told Duvar.
Bar associations in Turkey have said that their march to the capital Ankara is being carried out "against darkness," adding their aim is for the draft bill on changing bars' election systems to be withdrawn. "We are not in darkness, but against it. We're marching against darkness. We hope that our efforts yield results. This country needs bright days and we hope that we'll see them together," Van bar head said.
Council of Europe's Venice Commission has called on Turkey to reinstate mayors from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) who were sacked and replaced with trustees. It listed recommendations, including making the law on ineligible candidates clear, recognizing the elected six mayoral candidates of the district municipalities of Diyarbakır, Erzurum, Kars and Van and reinstating the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van.
A newly established women's organization in the eastern province of Van has said that some 10 women have sought their help about domestic violence counselling in the last two months. STAR Women's Association has said that many women are reluctant to take official action due to lengthy and often ineffective legal procedures.
The family of a 20-year-old man reportedly killed by soldiers in the southeastern province of Van has been seeking justice, as they applied to the Human Rights Association for legal support. "Erhan's dead body was seen with later on with two soldiers standing next to it. The village head brought his body to the village and four bullets were found on his body," Erhan Görür's mother said.
A Turkish court on June 16 arrested Voice of America reporter Arif Aslan hours after he was detained in the southeastern province of Van. The reason for the detention and arrest remains unknown. Media reports said that he was arrested over a previous case into him.
Human Rights Watch has urged Turkey to halt investigations into doctors running three professional medical associations in Turkey’s southeast and eastern provinces, saying, "The authorities should respect both freedom of expression and the important role of healthcare worker associations in informing the public and protecting public health."
Ahmet Türeli, 21, was found seriously wounded while doing his military service in Turkey's eastern province of Van last week. The military ruled his death as suicide, but Türeli's family said they do not believe this explanation and intend to open an investigation into the matter.
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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
The Turkish government's restrictions on card and board games are hurting business for old-fashioned coffee houses. Old-fashioned coffeehouses are an important part of social life, especially for retired and unemployed men in Turkey, and board and card games are among the primary activities.
Amnesty International has called on Turkey to investigate the throwing of two men from a military helicopter in the eastern province of Van. It also said that it's very concerned on the "allegations of torture and mistreatment," adding that international human rights law and standards must ensure that Turkey prevents torture under all circumstances.
Greece on Sept. 27 called on Turkey to condemn and investigate what it said was an "insult" to its national flag on the Greek island of Kastellorizo. "We expect Turkish authorities to immediately condemn and investigate the incident, so that the culprits are brought before justice," it said. "Such unacceptable actions only seek to torpedo prospects for easing tensions between the two countries."
HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan has called on Future Party leader and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to "speak the truth" about October 2014 Kobane protests a day after 20 HDP members were detained. "Now is the time to speak the truth. I think it's important for people who were in the government at the time and who know what unfolded to speak," Buldan said.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that coronavirus (COVID-19) positive individuals will wear electronic bracelets while under quarantine as a measure against violating quarantine rules. The ministry is evaluating two options regarding the bracelet and both options include alarming authorities if breaches take place.
Members of the European Parliament have condemned the latest crackdown on pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Kati Piri said that the Turkish government's move is “another step backwards pushing Turkey even further away from the EU,” while Nacho Sánchez Amor said that Turkish authorities seem “determined to establish some kind of overall retroactive state of emergency in order to further suppress opposition and any critical voices.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that he is very proud of his son who is doing his military service on the Greek-Turkish border. “Very proud father! I’m sorry that, due to Covid, I could not come to Alexandroupolis to brag about you!” said Mitsotakis Instagram on Sept. 25.
Istanbul Medical Chamber said on Sept. 25 that a healthcare worker who warned a patient's relative to put his mask on was beaten. Prof. Dr. Tufan Tükek, dean of Istanbul University’s Çapa Medical Faculty, said that the health worker named Rıfat Babayiğit might suffer a permanent vision loss due to the attack.
A deputy of the main opposition CHP has criticized the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) after a video footage showing a child being battered at a Quran course has surfaced. CHP MP Ali Öztunç called on Diyanet head to enlighten the incident, while also indicating that he does not believe the explanation of the district governor's office that the 10-year-old child was beaten by a 15-year-old child attending the same course.
The Surp Sarkis Armenian Church in Diyarbakır's Sur district, which is on the verge of destruction, is being targeted in recent years by treasure hunters. HDP deputy Garo Paylan said that the government's policy toward the church is a “purposeful neglect” for the memory of the Armenians in the city to be wiped away and called on the authorities to take the necessary measures for the protection of the church.
The Health Ministry has issued a new circular concerning the temporary supplementary payments given during the coronavirus epidemic. As per the new circular, doctors will get up to 50 percent increase in their coronavirus bonuses, whereas Diyanet personnel responsible for handling the deceased' bodies will get a 100 percent increase in their additional payments.
Turkey is trying to procure European-made air defense systems and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to drop his opposition to co-production of Eurosam SAMP/T air missile systems, Elysee sources told Bloomberg. Macron reportedly told Erdoğan that Turkey must clarify its objectives in northern Syria before the request could be considered.
The spokesperson of Turkey's Justice Ministry has said that Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation into Salafi associations which are alleged to be taking up arms as part of their preparations to fight in the country. The investigation comes after Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, a popular preacher from the İsmailağa order of Naqshbandi Sufis, warned the government that there are 2,000 Salafi associations in Turkey which are preparing for a civil war.
A Turkish court on Sept. 25 banned access to the website of daily Yeni Yaşam newspaper. The reason of the access ban is not yet known.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said on Sept. 25 that summary of proceedings will be prepared against seven HDP deputies in order for their immunities to be lifted over 2014 Kobane protests. The deputies in question were the HDP's Central Executive Board (MYK) members during Kobane protests, the prosecutor's office said.
Turkey's opposition parties have criticized the detention of HDP members CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel deemed the detentions "an intimidation operation" and asked the government whether new evidence was reached regarding the Kobane protests that happened six years ago. According to Özel, the recent detentions are attempts of the government to shift people's focus from the crumbling economy.
A group of opposition politicians slammed the construction of a 90-million-lira prison with a lake view in the eastern province of Van which government officials deemed "an investment." The opposition noted that the region has far more pressing needs than prisons and that hundreds of jails have been already built in recent years in Turkey.
Economy
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.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Urban Beat
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.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.