December 2023

Turkey Weekly 25 – 30 December 2023

Turkey Today – 30.12.2023

The military blockade in Hespist village of Şırnak’s İdil district has been continuing for 10 days. 

Naif Aybar, a 63-year-old prisoner in Van T Type Prison who had been receiving cancer treatment for a year, died. 

A court has arrested online news outlet Gerçek Gündem editor Furkan Karabay for reporting publicly available information about a case hearing over allegedly “targeting the person who took part in the fight against terrorism.”

Mesopotamia Agency reporter Hakan Yalçın was arrested yesterday. 

Religious Affairs Directorate disavowed engaging in New Year’s celebrations, decorating Christmas trees, and having Santa Claus figures and suits during the final Friday sermon of the year.

Turkey Today – 28.12.2023

Turkish drones bombed the tents of workers working at a water well in Sinjar. 5 workers were killed and 2 workers were wounded in the attack.

A 16-year-old boy was injured in Turkey’s bombardment of Ein Isa in Northern Syria.

5 people were detained in police raids conducted in Adana, Mersin, Izmir and Manisa due to “being a member of an illegal organisation”. 

A court has sentenced Ruşen Fırat on trial for “posting propaganda for a terrorist organization” to post Turkish flags on their social media account every day for a month and released them under judicial control measures.

İstanbul Bar Association files a complaint against court panel for not implementing the Constitutional Court decision. 

The Deputy Foreign Minister stated in the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee that they have witnessed Sweden implementing legislative changes that nobody could have imagined five or six years ago. 

Turkey Today – 27.12.2023

The Constitutional Court stated that the Court of Cassation acted contrary to the constitution’s provisions in a statement on the continuing imprisonment of MP Can Atalay despite its second judgment.

Rural areas of 9 neighborhoods in Mardin’s Nusaybin district were declared “temporary security zone” for 15 days. 

In Tunceli, 6 people were detained during a rally against the attacks on Rojava. 

Journalist Can Ataklı, against whom an investigation was launched due to his social media posts about the soldiers who lost their lives, was released by the court with judicial control condition after his statement at the prosecutor’s office.

Turkey Today – 26.12.2023

Sweden’s accession to NATO was approved by the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. 

Many people, including DEM Party executives, were detained in house raids in 32 cities, especially Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. 

Gabar Mountain, located within the borders of Şirnex centre and Güçlükonak districts, was declared a “Temporary Special Security Zone” for 15 days by the decision of the governorship. 

It was announced that Iranian President Ibrahim Reisi will visit Turkey in the first week of January upon the invitation of Erdoğan. 

The name of a school in Buca was changed to “Martyr Esat Oktay Yıldıran Primary School”. Esat Oktay Yıldıran served as the director of Diyarbakır Prison after the September 12 coup and is known as a torturer. 

MHP head Devlet Bahçeli left the parliamentary session in protest with other deputies as a DEM Party spokesperson took the rostrum for closing remarks of the budget hearings.

With the increasing impact of influenza and other seasonal viruses as well as COVID-19 variants, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) stated that Turkish hospitals have been going through a period similar to the peak days of the pandemic.

Turkey Today – 25.12.2023

Turkey bombed a train station, an agricultural center and a printing house in Northern and Eastern Syria. So far seven civilians lost their lives in Turkey’s attacks. 

Amid ongoing Turkish airstrikes, Christians in North and East Syria have gathered for Christmas services, but the streets remain eerily empty, fostering an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear.

DEM Party declared it postponed its fourth ordinary provincial Bursa congress due to threats of attack received online. 

The hearing of the lawsuit filed against retired colonel Ali Osman Akın and lieutenant colonel Kemal Alkan regarding the disappearance of Nezir Tekçi in Hakkari’s Yüksekova district was postponed. 

Turkey Weekly 18 – 24.12.2023

Turkey Today – 24.12.2023

At least 30 young people were beaten and detained after today’s DEM Party Youth Congress in Diyarbakır. 

Defense Minister Yaşar Güler went to the border after the increase in soldier losses in the violent clashes in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 

The hunger strike in prisons demanding “freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and a solution to the Kurdish issue” entered its 28th day. 

Turkey lifted the tourism visa requirement for the United States, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Oman nationals. Tourists from the six countries will no longer need visas to spend up to 90 out of 180 days in Turkey.

Turkey Today – 23.12.2023

More than 300 individuals across 32 provinces, suspected of having links to ISIS, were detained according to Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya. 

While the masses who wanted to commemorate Kurdish singer Mîr Perwer, who was murdered on 23 December 2023 in Paris, were not allowed to go to his grave, his family and relatives who went to the cemetery were beaten by the soldiers. 

Saturday Mothers gathered at Galatasaray Square in week 978. The case of Ismail Bahçeci who disappeared after he was taken into custody in Istanbul 29 years ago was thematised. Bahçeci studied journalism and was chairman of the Federation of Student Associations in Turkey. 

A court acquitted one SOL (Left) Party member Hüseyin Karadağ previously charged for “insulting the Turkish President” during a 2015 protest after the Constitutional Court ruled that the conviction violated the right to free expression. 

Turkey Today – 22.12.2023

The Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee will discuss Sweden’s accession protocol to NATO on 26 December. 

During the parliamentary session discussing the 2024 budget, Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç mentioned to the issue of media freedom. He said “currently, there is no one in our prisons solely for journalistic activities.” 

DEM Party Spokesperson and also a journalist, Ayşegül Doğan spoke about the budget of the Directorate of Communication in the parliament and criticized the statement of the Minister of Justice, who claimed that there were no imprisoned journalists in Turkey.

The Association Supporating Women Candidates (KA.DER) sent a letter to political party representatives ahead of the local elections scheduled for March, requesting attention to gender balance when selecting candidates.

Turkey Today – 21.12.2023

The Constitutional Court found rights violations in Workers’ Party of Turkey deputy Can Atalay’s imprisonment once again, upon a second application by Atalay’s lawyers. 

Far-right Victory Party (ZP) leader Ümit Özdağ has demanded main opposition CHP leader Özgür Özel to deem Sheikh Said “traitor” to form an alliance for the local elections. Özdağ also demanded the CHP to not collaborate with the DEM Party. 

The Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) changed the posts of 506 judges and prosecutors, including those facing investigations related to bribery and other charges. 

The hearing of the 50 thousand TL non-pecuniary damages lawsuit filed against journalist Faruk Arhan on the complaint of former AKP Erzurum MP Zehra Taşkesenlioğlu was held in Ankara. Trial adjourned until January. 

The journalist Hasan Sivri faced acase for allegedly sharing misleading information on social media about the February 6 earthquakes. Hasan Sivri was acquitted because the elements of the crime did not occur.

Turkey Today – 20.12.2023

Alevi organizations in Turkey requested a formal apology from the government on the 45th anniversary of the Maraş Massacre. In 1978, ultranationalists attacked Alevi homes and killed 100+ in Maraş. 

DEM Party MP Sezai Temelli questioned the ongoing censorship of the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper “Yeni Yaşam” in the parliament. Yeni Yaşam has not been allowed in the parliament since August 2021. 

The final hearing for the trial involving over 200 police officers in connection with the Ümraniye Prison massacre, where 23 lives were lost, and 408 were injured between March 12-15, 1995, was held in İstanbul. All defendants were acquitted. 

The release of seriously ill prisoner İsmail Hakkı Tursun, who has been held in prison for 31 years, was postponed for the third time on the grounds that he was not of “good behavior”. 

Emine Şenyaşar, whose husband and two sons were murdered by the relatives and guards of former AKP MP İbrahim Halil Yıldız, was fined in the case where she was tried on the allegation of “insulting” Yıldız. 

Turkey Today – 19.12.2023

President Erdoğan stated that the EU would stall Ukraine and Moldova’s accession to the union and added that Turkey, which he believed had earned the right to join the EU before them, is being delayed for political reasons.

İYİ Party’s presidential council member left the parliament after a dispute between deputies and deputy speaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder over DEM Party MP George Aslan’s Christmas celebration in his native Syriac language. 

Education Minister Yusuf Tekin has stated that the ministry would continue collaborating with Islamic cults and organizations in 2024. 

The “KCK Academy” case against 21 people, including former DBP and HDP members and executives and journalists Haydar Ergül, Ahmet Birsin and Şeyma Kantarcı, on charges of “being a member of an illegal organization” was held in İstanbul. The court decided to continue the ban on leaving the country for all defendants. Trial adjourned until March. 

3 more criminal organization leaders, whom Interpol sought with a red notice and Urgent Capture Message, were detained in Turkey. 

Turkey Today – 18.12.2023

Although 8 years have passed since the murder of Mother Taybet, whose body was held in the middle of the street for 7 days, not a single person has been tried. Her husband Halit İnan said: “Despite all this brutality, the struggle of the Kurds continues.”

The legal case regarding the threats against journalist Hale Gönültaş following her report with headline “ISIS woman’s jihad video with a knife shot in the public park” concluded without penalties. 

Journalist Sıddık Güler was arrested after the Supreme Court approved the local court’s sentence of 2 years, 4 months and 3 days in prison for “terrorism propaganda”. 

The first hearing of the lawsuit filed against 26 people who were detained while commemorating the victims of the mining disaster in Amasra in front of the Miners’ Monument in Ankara was held in Ankara. The trial has been postponed to April to allow for the defense statements of those who haven’t presented their defenses yet.

The case filed against Bakur documentary directors Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu due to “making illegal organization propaganda” was held in Batman. The court sentenced them to 1 year and 13 months in prison. 

Turkey Weekly 4 – 10 December 2023

Turkey Today – 10.12.2023

The Human Rights Association (IHD) promoted demonstrations in numerous cities in Turkey and northern Kurdistan to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Charter.

HEDEP Youth Council Co-Speakers Edanur İbrahimoğlu and İbrahim Uzun talked about the violence during detention and stated that they received a report of assault and that they would file a criminal complaint.

Alevi organizations in Turkey held a rally in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district, demanding a decent life, secular education and judicial independence in the country. The rally saw the participation of HEDEP co-chair, and CHP and HEDEP deputies.

The rotating hunger strike initiated by the prisoners demanding “freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and a solution to the Kurdish issue” continues on its 14th day.

Turkey Today – 09.12.2023

2 children and 1 woman were wounded in the Turkish bombardment against a village in Northern Syria’s Til Temir. 

The families of Abdullah Öcalan and his fellow prisoners submitted an application to the Turkish judiciary for an urgent visit after the seaquake in the Gulf of Gemlik, which was also felt on the prison island of Imrali.

In the 976th week of their protests, Saturday Mothers asked for the fate of Agit Akipa and İbrahim Demir, who disappeared in custody 31 years ago. The children of both disappeared people stated that they have been struggling for years for the perpetrators to be tried. 

Journalist Elfazi Toral from JINNEWS, who was beaten and detained yesterday while covering HEDEP youth council’s statement, was released with judicial control measures after giving her statement to the prosecutor’s office. 

Turkey Today – 08.12.2023

Edanur Ibrahimoğlu, spokesperson for the HEDEP Youth Council, was hit so hard in the eye with the fist while in police custody in Istanbul that it swelled up completely. 

The Parliament’s Human Rights Investigation Commission has stated the HEDEP’s visit to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was possible “if it is deemed appropriate.” 

Government ally MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said that the party would accept Sweden’s NATO membership in the Parliament depending on the organization’s stance on the Palestine issue. 

The court imposed an access restriction on journalist Metin Cihan’s tweets in which he exposed Turkish companies’ continuing trade relations with Israel upon the application of former PM Binali Binali Yıldırım.

The first hearing of the case in which Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) CoChair Dicle Müftüoğlu is being tried on charges of “being a member of a terrorist organization” was held yesterday in Diyarbakır. The court decided to “continue the arrest”. 

Kırklareli Provincial Directorate of Education appointed imams as spiritual counselors to 158 schools in the province. It became the third province where Muslim religious officials attended classes.

Turkey Today – 06.12.2023

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan has stated that the country’s diplomatic and trade relations with Israel “has never been conducted at the expense of the just cause of Palestine.”

Imprisoned HDP former Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş appeared in court again. “I am Kurdish, I am a Kurdish politician, and that is the reason for my trial,” he said. 

Human Rights Association Ankara branch emphasized that the decision to postpone the execution given when Cemal Tanhan was on the brink of death would not change the fact that he lost his life in prison, constituting a violation of his right to life.

Workers at Özak Textile, located in the Urfa Organized Industrial Zone, have been on strike since November 27 in response to pressure to change unions and dismissals from their jobs. Today, gendarmerie forces intervened and detained 19 workers. 

Turkey Today – 05.12.2023

Turkish warplanes bombed the town of Bamerne in Duhok early in the morning. A citizen named Ali Cemil lost his life in the attack. One person was also injured. It is stated that one person is missing.

MA editor Abdurrahman Gök was released after 7 months at the second hearing of the case filed against him. 

A prosecutor requested opposition journalist İsmail Saymaz’s imprisonment of up to three years, for “revealing the identity and targeting of public personnel on anti-terror duty.” 

3 people were detained during the raids on houses in Malatya’s Yazıhan district. 

Turkey Today – 04.12.2023

HEDEP Spokesperson Ayşegül Doğan stated that the tendency to field candidates in every part of the country in the local elections emerged at the MYK meeting of the party and said, “Our strategy is to win, not to have others lose or win.”

Announcing its decision in the Vartinis Case, which was filed regarding the burning to death of 9 people from the same family in 1993, the court decided to drop the file on the grounds of prescription.

Cemal Tanhan (68), a seriously ill prisoner who has been held in Bolu Prison, was taken to Hospital after he had a stroke on October 23. He died 43 days later. 

CHP Group Deputy Chair Gökhan Günaydın has stated that they would focus on the economic issues and the regime’s autocracy in the local election campaign, which is scheduled to be held on March 31, 2024. 

Kocaeli MP Gergerlioğlu criticized lack of an official statement regarding the explosion in the Turkish Grain Board silos at Derince Port, and non-disclosure of the expert report, despite four months passing. 

Turkey Weekly 3 -2 December 2023

Turkey Today – 03.12.2023

A commemoration programme was organised in front of the old building of the newspaper in Istanbul on the anniversary of the bombing of Özgür Ülke newspaper on December 3, 1994. 

Many houses were raided by the police in Muş. HEDEP Youth Council member Berfin Yekta was detained during the house raids. 

The rotating hunger strike action launched in prisons demanding “freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and solution to the Kurdish issue” has entered its 7th day.

Minister of Internal Affairs Ali Yerlikaya announced that “Shamil Amirov”, one of the managers of the “Thieves in Law” organized crime organization operating in Russia, who was wanted by Interpol with a blue bulletin, was caught in Istanbul. 

Turkey Today – 02.12.2023

The remains of YJA-STAR member Menfiyat Elçiçek, who lost her life in the conflict that broke out in the Kato Marînos region in 2018, was delivered to her family in a cardboard box. 

An individual application was made to the Constitutional Court (AYM) for the second time for Hatay MP Can Atalay.

A Turkish chief prosecutor’s office launched an investigation against far-right Victory Party (ZP) head Ümit Özdağ for “inciting the public to hatred and enmity” and “purposeful spread of misinformation.”

A court has blocked access to the daily BirGün’s reporting dated Nov. 16 regarding sexual harassment allegations of a deputy governor based on a petition dated July 26.