Van
An opposition deputy criticized Turkey's Trade Ministry's move to increase import taxes on Iranian watermelons by 300 percent. The lawmaker noted that the tax spike also applies to watermelons that are currently being transported, leaving merchants unable to pay for goods that they carried across borders.
Dubbed the world's largest museum for Urartu artifacts, the Van Museum in southeastern Turkey is preparing to host visitors after the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum director noted that they've made a plan for the sterilization of the building, along with disinfecting the visitors' hands and feet.
Despite a previous court decision that outlawed the construction of a hydroelectric power plant over the Zilan River in the eastern province of Van, work on the project resumed about two months ago. According to Fatih Şahin, the chair of the Van Mesopotamia Ecology Association, the project that is currently threatening the Zilan River is similar to what the Turkish government did in the historic town of Hasankeyf.
A mass wake gathering in the southeastern province of Van led to a jump in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. Van Governor Mehmet Emin Bilmez said that the number of coronavirus cases jumped to 51 in the Ortanca neighborhood, while also urging Van residents to refrain from holding funeral ceremonies. "Report those doing so to police or the gendarmerie for your and social health," Bilmez said.
Sixteen Iranian truck drivers quarantined in Turkey's Zonguldak for suspected coronavirus have all tested negative, the provincial governor announced on Twitter. The drivers were put in isolation on Feb. 26 after one of them was determined to suffer from high fever.
Respiratory masks have become a street commodity in Turkey's southeastern province of Van, neighboring Iran where coronavirus has killed 15. Street vendors sell the masks at 10 times their original price, asking for 10 Turkish Liras for masks that used to be sold for 1TL, 20 TL for masks originally sold for 2 TL or 3 TL.
No tents were set up for victims of the 6.0-magnitude in Iran that killed nine people in the southeastern province of Van, a group of officials from Turkey's Human Rights Association said. No alternative shelter was provided for the survivors either, the group said, condemning families to spend the night in the freezing cold.
Nine people were killed in the eastern province of Van after an earthquake struck Turkey's border with Iran. The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said the quake had a depth of 5 km. Iranian officials said it had been felt in Iran but that there were no immediate reports of deaths.
Local administrators in the southeastern province of Van have decided to install thermal scanning systems at the nearby Kapıköy Border Gate to Iran, following two coronavirus-related deaths in the neighboring country. A health room will also be set up at the border gate, personnel will receive special training and pamphlets will be available in Turkish, English and Persian.
Turkey's Education Ministry (MEB) has reportedly asked teachers and school administrators in the southeastern province of Van to raise funds to buy fuel for the snowplows the ministry would send. While classes restarted on Feb. 17 following a 10-day snow break, the roads remain blocked in the southeastern province of Van that received snowfall of over a meter.
An area in the southeastern town of Van that features around 17,000 chimney rocks was declared a protected area on Feb. 12, the Governor of Van Mehmet Emin Bilmez said. The area is often dubbed "Vanadocia" as a play on the name Cappadocia, the picturesque region around Nevşehir known for its unique landscapes.
A report based on United Nations data from Turkey's 2020 Universal Periodic Review revealed that some 147 bans on demonstrations and protests have been implemented in 22 different locations across Turkey between Jan. 1, 2019 and Jan. 31, 2020. "In Turkey, the constitutional right to 'peaceful assembly and demonstration with no prior notice' has become a meaningless expression," said the report by the Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TIHV).
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duvar englis podcasts
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.