March 2024

Turkey Weekly 25 – 30 March 2024

Turkey Today – 30.03.2024

Starting from 5 p.m. on March 30, the propaganda prohibition has come into effect for Turkey’s local elections scheduled for tomorrow.

US President Biden on May 9 will hold the first bilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Washington since his election in 2020. 

DEM MP George Aslan, the only Christian MP in the parliament, has raised inquiries to Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy regarding the sale of the church, which holds significant cultural and religious value.

The police detained two young people wearing local clothes at the rally organized by the DEM Party in Kars and confiscated the clothes of the young people.

Turkey Today – 28.03.2024

Members of the Court of Cassation failed to elect a new president in the tenth round since none of the candidates, including the current president, could secure a simple majority.

The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (OHD) Ankara Branch Prisons Commission applied to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Health regarding the rights violations experienced by prisoners in prisons in the Central Anatolia region during hospital transfers.

The saz tuner and some other items that the prisoners in Kürkçüler Prison bought from the canteen with money were confiscated. 

Lokman Yalçın, who is held in Ahlat Type T Closed Prison, stated that sharp substances were thrown into the vents from the side ward and that there was no safety for their lives. 

It was stated that the election duty of a teacher in Cizre district was canceled due to the victory sign icon next to its name on WhatsApp. 

Turkey Today – 27.03.2024

A military operation was launched in the rural area of Diyarbakır’s Hazro district.

The trial where 15 public officials are being retried for the assassination of Agos Newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Hrant Dink in 2007 was held in İstanbul. The court ruled for the continuation of the defendants’ pretrial detention and judicial control measures. Trial adjourned until May. 

The Istanbul National Education Directorate has argued that the AKP municipalities’ activities of taking students to morning prayers “do not violate the law or the Constitution” as participation was on a voluntary basis.

Prof. Dr. Nükhet Sirman taken into custody in Istanbul on 23 March has been released under judicial control measures. 

Turkey Today – 26.03.2024

Prisoners stated that human rights violations have increased and arbitrary disciplinary punishments have been given in Kavak S-Type Prison and called for awareness. 

The Kabataş-Bağcılar Tram line in Istanbul experienced temporary disruptions after election posters of Murat Kurum, AKP’s Istanbul mayoral candidate, were hung along the route. The same line was also disrupted days ago due to Kurum’s posters.

CHP MP Deniz Yücel has criticized the ruling AKP’s mayoral candidate for using a university panel as a campaigning opportunity. Turkey’s Industry Minister also joined the meeting, where attendance was mandatory for students.

Yesterday, a shop owner shot and killed a person during a fight with CHP volunteers who were handing out campaign pamphlets for the upcoming local elections in Antalya. 

The second session of the trial against IHD Co-Chair Eren Keskin and IHD member Güllistan Yarkın on charges of “insulting the state” due to the commemoration organized on the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 2021, was held in Istanbul. Trial adjourned until May. 

The fourth hearing of the lawsuit filed by Serhat Albayrak, Deputy Chairman of the Turkuvaz Media Group, against Erdem Avşar, the Responsible Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper, based on an article published in Yeniçağ newspaper, alleging “slander” and “insult,” was held in Istanbul. Avşar was acquitted. 

Turkey Today – 25.03.2024

Today marks exactly three years since PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan last communicated with the outside world, despite all efforts made by the Asrın Law Office. 

The Gabar Mountain region in Şirnex was declared a “Special Security Zone” for the 7th time for 15 days and entry was prohibited. 

75-year-old Hatice Yıldız, who was arrested on a stretcher, deteriorate in the prison where she was held alone for 3 days. Her lawyer applied for postponement of execution and probation for Yıldız. 

Yalçın Kaval, who was subjected to police violence while detained in Hakkari, was released on condition of judicial control. 

Academic Nükhet Sirman, an antropologist retired from Boğaziçi University, detained ‘due to research subject under police surveillance’. 

Turkey Weekly 18 – 24 March 2024

Turkey Today – 24.03.2024

The hunger strike launched by political prisoners to demand freedom for PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question has entered its 119th day.  

The Environmental Engineers Chamber has warned against the risks of oil exploration in the Marmara Sea after the Natural Resources Ministry granted the Turkish Petroleum Corporation an eight-year license to search for petroleum in the inland sea.

A court has sentenced four defendants employed in the construction of the Galeria complex to 17 years and six months in jail. The building was one of the few that collapsed during the February 23 earthquake in Diyarbakır, killing 89 people. 

Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) deputy chair Ebru Yiğit, ESP PM members Birkan Polat & Hıdır Ali Kılıç, and Free Young Women’s (ÖGK) Central Coordination member Sinem Çelebi, taken into custody on the morning of 19 March, were sent to prison. 

Turkey Today – 23.03.2024

Police arrested 75-year-old Hatice Yıldız, who was sentenced to prison for sending money to her daughter and her friend in prison, after being taken out of her house on a stretcher. 

A lawsuit was filed against 4 prisoners on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization” due to the news published about rights violations in Bafra Prison.

Nadire Yaman, the daughter of 80-year-old ill prisoner Omer Yaman, called out to the authorities for the release of her father because she feared for his life in prison conditions due to his health problems. 

Saturday Mothers have sought justice for Hasan Ocak, who was murdered under police custody back in 1995, in their 991st vigil held at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square. 

A recently signed protocol by the government-appointed trustee-run Van Municipality dictates to cover the Erdoğan-linked Turkish Youth Association TÜGVA social activities for the upcoming five years.

Turkey Today – 22.03.2024

204 people, including 38 children, who were detained during Newroz in Amed were released. 

The visitor entrance gate of the Ministry of Justice, where Emine Şenyaşar continues the Justice Watch, was closed to her. Her husband and two sons were murdered by the bodyguards and relatives of former AKP deputy Ibrahim Halil Yıldız in 2018. 

An Istanbul court canceled the decisions of the Istanbul Governor and Beyoğlu District Governor to prevent the Istanbul Feminist Night March on March 8, 2022, and to stop public transport services. 

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya has campaigned for local elections in Istanbul, asking for votes for the ruling People’s Alliance. Yerlikaya’s campaigning raised concerns over electoral integrity, as his ministry is responsible for maintaining it.

Turkey Today – 21.03.2024

Newroz in Diyarbakır was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. 

University student Kemal Kurkut, who was killed by the police in Diyarbakır during Newroz in 2017, was commemorated at the place where he was shot. 

The Constitutional Court elected Justice Kadir Özkaya as its new president. Özkaya was one of the justices voted in favor of the release of former MP Can Atalay from prison. 

A court has reinstated the ownership of the iconic Gezi Park to the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality from the Sultan Bayezid Foundation. The Municipality in 2021 appealed the Tourism Ministry ruling that approved the foundation’s handover. 

A court has ruled that it was unlawful for the state-run Information and Communications Technologies Authority (BTK) to withhold documents on its internet limitation decision during the Feb. 6 quake rescue efforts.

Turkey Today – 20.03.2024

Former mayor of Artuklu, Sevinç Bozan, was taken into custody at the Mardin Courthouse where she had gone to give a statement.

An İzmir court has arrested six individuals on charge of “terrorist propaganda” following Sunday’s Newroz celebrations. 29 others were released under juridical supervision. 

CHP deputy Mahmut Tanal said that AKP-led Urfa Municipality distributed blankets and children’s clothing sent by UNICEF for earthquake victims to voters with bags labeled with the municipality’s logo in the run-up to the local elections.

Kanal Istanbul currently isn’t a priority, AKP’s Istanbul candidate Murat Kurum remarked in an interview, marking a departure from his previous fervent support for President Erdoğan’s pet project. 

bianet editor Ayça Söylemez has been acquitted of “marking a counterterrorism official as a target for terror groups”. 

Turkey Today – 19.03.2024

The Defense Ministry said PKK fighters attacked its forces in the Kurdistan Region, killing one soldier and injuring four others. 

“We will completely guarantee the security of our Iraqi border by this summer and will definitely complete our unfinished business in Syria” Erdoğan said in a meeting with soldiers.  

The case of Brigadier General Yavuz Ertürk, who was on trial for ordering the killing of 11 villagers in the Bolu Commando Unit he commanded in Pasur, was dropped due to the statute of limitations.

In Diyarbakır and Istanbul, 19 members of the DEM party and its youth structures were arrested under terrorism charges. 

The police have detained four members of CHP’s local youth branch in the Aegean İzmir province for “insulting the President” with their graffiti depicting Erdoğan. 

The fourth hearing of the trial in which Evrensel newspaper’s Kürşat Yılmaz and Görkem Kınacı are being prosecuted for “defamation” and “insult” upon the complaint of Serhat Albayrak, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Turkuvaz Media Group, was held in İstanbul. Trial adjourned until April. 

The second hearing of the trial in which journalist Levent Gültekin is being prosecuted for “insulting the president” was held in İstanbul. Trial adjourned. 

The prison sentence of 3 years and 15 days given to journalist Ismail Eskin, who criticized the attacks during the curfew period, on the grounds of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” was overturned. 

Turkey Today – 18.03.2024

Şırnak’s Beytüşşebap District Governor Kemal Ulkü went from house to house and distributed aid with Sevilay Ataman, the daughter-in-law of AKP mayoral candidate Kamil Dürmüş and the head of the AKP women’s branch. 

House raids were carried out in Şirnak, Batman and İzmir. Many people were detained. 

Ill prisoner Ismail Tüzün who did not accept strip search has been held in a cell for 10 days. 

Government ally MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has called on Erdoğan not to step down from office as he “cannot leave the Turkish nation alone.” Erdoğan recently said the upcoming local elections will be his last election.  

Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk has stated that not the main opposition CHP but President Erdoğan can convince “the deep state” for the solution of the Kurdish issue. Türk added that this does not mean Erdoğan “can or will resolve the problem.”

Turkey Weekly 11 – 17 March

Turkey Today – 17.03.2024

Imprisoned Kurdish politicians Selahattin Demirtaş and Selçuk Mızraklı said in a letter to IHD’s “Kurdish Solution and Peace Conference” that Turkish President Erdoğan and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan are the primary interlocutors in the solution of the Kurdish issue.

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Istanbul to celebrate Newroz.

Tuğçe Yılmaz and Ali Dinç, bianet reporters covering the Newroz celebrations in Istanbul, were subjected to violence by the police. Police officers wanted to detain bianet Kurdish editor Aren Yıldırım. AFP photographer Eylül Deniz Yaşar was detained at a police checkpoint. 

During Kocaeli Newroz, police officers confiscated an Amedspor jersey of a person on the grounds that it was a “YPG jersey”. Girl with Down syndrome and epilepsy had a seizure when her jersey was confiscated. 

The letters sent by prisoners Islam Erdoğan and Feyaz Tahsuk in Antalya S-Type Prison to the CPT and the ECHR regarding their rights violations were censored.

Hunger strike in prisons demanding freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question entered day 112. 

Yesterday, house raids were carried out by police in Mersin. 5 people were detained. 

Turkey Today – 16.03.2024

The “Kurdish Solution and Peace Conference” organized by the Human Rights Association (İHD) began today in Diyarbakır. Lawmakers, academics, civil society representatives, and international guests will discuss the Kurdish issue for two days in closed-door meetings. 

President Erdoğan has arrived in Van for the AKP mayoral candidate’s rally in the city center ahead of the local elections. Life was paralyzed in the city as officers obstructed major avenues to make way for Erdoğan’s security fleet.

Islamist YRP leader Fatih Erbakan has stated that the ruling AKP did not abide by the alliance protocol they signed before the 2023 elections, and that’s why there is economic turmoil in the country.

The reduced prison sentence of 10 years and 10 months given to imam Kadri Ozkaya, who sexually abused a child in the mosque, was approved on appeal. 

Turkey Today – 15.03.2024

A court has blocked access to 67 reportings and posts regarding President Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan, citing “personal rights” as the reason.

AKP’s Ankara mayoral candidate Turgut Altınok has refused to disclose his personal wealth despite his opponent Mansur Yavaş doing so, and said “Property belongs to Allah, we are the custodians,” referring to one of the verses of the Qur’an.

AKP’s Istanbul mayoral candidate Murat Kurum has vowed to build the Sefaköy-Avcılar-Beylikdüzü metro line. The Istanbul Municipality, run by the opposition CHP, already has a project for the same line, which Ankara denies its construction.

Over one million young people will vote for the first time in the upcoming local elections on March 31. 

Turkey Today – 14.03.2024

In Kocasinan in the province of Kayseri, an election campaign vehicle of the DEM party was attacked with a firearm. The attacker was reportedly arrested.

Politician Selahattin Demirtaş has refused to see visitors in prison, protesting the “insulting” body search protocol the prison has begun to implement on him as per the Justice Ministry’s instruction, announced lawyer Ramazan Demir. 

According to DEM Party member Zeki Irmez Sırnak Governor Cevdet Atay started distributing white goods and food supplies just days before the elections.

Pointing out that Turkey is preparing to attack Gare, journalist Botan Germiyani said: “As a result of the attacks, 161 villages have been evacuated so far. 602 villages are at risk of being evacuated.”

Feyyaz Başak, who is held in Elazığ Prison, stated that the prisoners on hunger strike were put in cells and not given books. 

The trial of journalist Haydar Ergül and 15 former HDP members on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization,” was held in Istanbul. Trial adjourned until June. 

Turkey Today – 13.03.2024

Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities will arrive in Turkey to monitor the local elections in multiple provinces including Istanbul, capital Ankara, Aegean İzmir, and southeastern Diyarbakır upon the government’s invitation. 

The Presidential Proposals Regarding the Removal of Parliamentary Immunity for 5 Members of Parliament, four of them from DEM Party, have been referred to the Joint Commission consisting of members from the Constitutional and Justice Committees by the Parliament Speaker.

President Erdoğan emphasized the importance of avoiding any actions that could escalate the conflict in Ukraine and potentially expand it to involve NATO. 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced plans to visit Ankara in May. 

Turkey Today – 12.03.2024

President Erdoğan plans to launch a mass military operation in Iraq and Syria after local elections. Erdoğan is also expected to make his first visit to Baghdad and Erbil as president.

In house raids carried out in the morning hours in Istanbul, Free Women’s Movement (TJA) activists Nurcan Tayboğa, Nesibe Akyol and Remziye Bozkurt and Ebru Karaaslan from Jineolojî Academy were detained. 

The retrial of the case against journalist Mehmet Salih Turan on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” due to his social media posts, which was reversed by the Constitutional Court because his rights were violated, started in Istanbul. Trial adjourned until April. 

According to İdris Bozkurt, a Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) official, everyone who has any form of work associated with alcohol is considered to be “cursed” by the Prophet.

Turkey Today – 11.03.2024

AKP deputy and former Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ hypothesized that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could technically run one more time if the parliament called for an early election. Erdoğan had said the upcoming local elections would be his last ever.

Berkin Elvan was commemorated at his grave on the 10th anniversary of his murder. A police officer shot 15-year-old Elvan in the head with a tear gas canister, putting him in a coma and causing his death during the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

An election meeting of AKP mayoral candidates was announced on mosque loudspeakers in two neighborhoods of Aydın’s Bozdoğan district. 

Former mayor Murat Sesli, banned from politics due to involvement in a criminal case during his tenure as AKP’s mayor of a district in Zonguldak, has nominated his cousin, also named Murat Sesli, as a candidate for the local elections.

Turkey Weekly 4 – 10 March 2024

Turkey Today – 10.03.2024

The U.S. and Turkey on March 8 held several rounds of talks on Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, defense industry cooperation, and counterterrorism at the State Department in Washington, announced Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

A village in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has been attacked by fighter bombers. The village near the Amêdî district is repeatedly targeted by the Turkish state.

In Urfa’s Suruç district, 17 people have been arrested, including the district chair of DEM party and three candidates for the city council. 

DEM Party co-chair Tülay Hatimoğulları said that municipality properties in Mardin province were transferred to ministries before the local elections. 

The hunger strike in prisons demanding the freedom of PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question reached its 105th day. 

Turkey Today – 09.03.2024

Two civilians, including seventeen-year-old Talib Mihemed Hemedan, were seriously injured in a Turkish artillery attack in Şehba / Northern Syria. 

In a drone attack on Şengal conducted by Turkey a fighter from the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ) died. 

After a meeting with Ukrainian President Zelenskiy, President Erdoğan has stated at a press conference that they are ready to host a summit between Ukraine and Russia to end the war.

President Erdoğan criticized women’s organizations that were “allergic” to the term family and warned against all views that sought to “detach women from the family,” during a Women’s Day program in Istanbul.

Saturday Mothers gathered at Galatasaray Square in week 989. To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, the cases of missing and murdered women were highlighted this week. 

Turkey Today – 08.03.2024

Today at 6:30 am, a Turkish fighter jet bombed Bariske village in Dinarte/Kurdistan Region of Iraq killing 2 civilians and injuring one. All 3 were collecting wild vegetables on the mountain.,

The National Defense Ministry announced that the United States continues its support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDG), which it designates as a “terrorist organization”. The Ministry called for the cessation of support to the SDG and expressed the expectation that sincere support would be provided in the fight against terrorism instead. 

Women and LGBTI+s are coming together in Sıraselviler, near İstanbul’s Taksim square, to hold the Feminist Night March. Police barriers and buses are positioned on all roads leading to Sıraselviler and Cihangir Street. 

According to two separate investigations by online news outlets T24 and Politikyol, leaked data of millions of Turkish citizens, including those of public figures, are available for fees as low as 150 liras. 

Supreme Election Council (YSK) has denied a request by the main opposition CHP to ban the ruling AKP’s local election campaign ad for featuring religious and national imagery. 

Police have intervened in the Istanbul University students’ march held for International Women’s Day allegedly over a banner reading “LGBTIQ+,” and detained many of them. 

Turkey Today – 07.03.2024

Human Rights Association stated that sending money to prisoners cannot be considered a crime and stressed that the law should be cancelled. 

The Constitutional Court declared that international travel ban imposed on human rights activist Nurcan Kaya violated her freedom of expression. 

CHP’s Afyonkarahisar mayoral candidate Burcu Köksal stated at a rally attended by the party’s Chair Özgür Özel, “If I am elected, the municipality’s door would be open to all political parties except for the DEM Party.”

The lawsuit filed against writer Yavuzel Gokhan due to “insulting the president” was held in Urfa. Yavuzel did not attend the hearing. Trial adjourned until October. 

Turkey Today – 06.03.2024

Ogün Samast, the gunman in Hrant Dink’s murder speaks at the court: ‘They told me the state was behind us’. 

President Erdoğan hosted his Palestinian counterpart Abbas in Ankara. “Netanyahu and his murder partners will surely pay for every drop of blood they shed before the law and the public conscience,” Erdoğan said in a joint press conference.

AKP deputy chair Efkan Ala stated that the radical Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP) has not been part of Turkey’s ruling People’s Alliance anymore after the two parties have been at odds due to disagreement on upcoming local elections.

AKP Mayor Mehmet Enis Doğan of Mollakendi district in Elazığ province was arrested on charges related to “facilitating prostitution” at his hotel.

Police detained seven people, including a private detective who was a former public servant, suspected of selling information to Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization said. 

Turkey Today – 05.03.2024

An attack was carried out on the Inegöl district building of DEM Party. A party member who was outside the district building during the attack was chased by the attacker with an axe.

Many people were detained in house raids in Ankara in the morning. During home raids, the police used violence against a family and threatened the family with death. 

Prisoner Vedat Hesas, who is on hunger strike in Kavak Type S Closed Prison, stated that he was subjected to strip search by the guards. 

An acquittal decision was made in the case filed against director Sibel Tekin on the allegation of “being a member of a terrorist organization”. 

Turkey Today – 04.03.2024

Ankara 1st Heavy Penal Court had acquitted 18 defendants, including Mehmet Ağar and Korkut Eken in the case regarding 18 unidentified murders of the 1990’s. 

A lawsuit was filed against journalist Abdullah Kaya, who reported on a village guard trying to vote with a gun in Ağrı’s Diyadin district.

IHD Diyarbakır Branch Prison Commission member Ali Ihsan Demirtaş said that in order to solve the Kurdish issue, the isolation must be abolished and negotiations must be held with Abdullah Ocalan.  

Ali Sinan Çağlar, who was detained and arrested in the raid on the People’s Law Bureau, filed a criminal complaint, alleging torture and ill-treatment in Kavak S Type Prison in Samsun, where he was transferred.

A court has arrested two engineers for the collapsed Çöpler Gold Mine in Turkey’s eastern Erzincan province. They were employed in operational positions at the mine. 

Turkey Weekly 1 – 3 March 2024

Turkey Today – 03.03.2024

Final lists of political parties and independent candidates who can participate in local elections were announced by provincial and district election boards. 

The hunger strike of political prisoners in prisons demanding ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question’ has reached its 98th day. 

Chamber of Geological Engineers Diyarbakır Branch called for a “Fault Law” against earthquake risk. 

Turkey Today – 03.03.2024

Ankara 9th Criminal Court of Peace canceled the content removal decision of the Turkish government for 45 tweets following the mining disaster in Erzincan province upon X’s application. 

CHP has met with the director of the state-run broadcaster TRT, Mehmet Zahid Sobacı, to discuss the disproportionate airtimes the channel allocates to the ruling AKP. Sobacı denied the party’s analysis and deemed it inaccurate.

Human Rights Association (İHD) has drawn attention to neglect in a container town built in Hatay for the refugee survivors of the Feb. 6 earthquakes after a nine-year-old Syrian child drowned in a rainwater well at the premises.

Speaking at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Maliki announced that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will visit Ankara on 5 March.

Turkey Today – 01.03.2024

The Constitutional Court has found that the denial of books to inmates, including politician Sebahat Tuncel, violated their “freedom of expression.” 

The delegation of the “International Delegation of Lawyers Against Isolation”, which is in Turkey visited Asrın Law Office representing PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan. 

Former Interior Minister Sadettin Tantan has testified as a witness in the “Return to Life Operation” case and denied responsibility for the disproportionate force used by the military. In 2000, 30 prisoners and two soldiers were killed during the simultaneous military operations in 20 prisons.

Association of Lawyers for Freedom (OHD) executive Necat Çiçek was detained during a house raid.

3 journalists detained in Wan were released after giving their statements to the prosecutor’s office.