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Turkey

"Turkey condemns U.S. over ‘aggressive’ acts agains..."

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by 45 Jurors

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a contiguous transcontinental parliamentary republic, with its smaller part in Southeastern Europe and its larger part in Western Asia (i.e. the Balkans and Anatolia, respectively). Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea is to the south; the Aegean Sea to the west; and the Black Sea to the north. The Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles (which together form the Turkish Straits) demarcate the boundary between Thrace and Anatolia; they also separate Europe and Asia. Turkey's location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes it a country of significant geostrategic importance.

Turkey has been inhabited since the paleolithic age, including various Ancient Anatolian civilizations and Thracian peoples. After Alexander the Great's conquest, the area was Hellenized, which continued with the Roman rule and the transition into the Byzantine Empire. The Seljuk Turks began migrating into the area in the 11th century, starting the process of Turkification, which was greatly accelerated by the Seljuk victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, upon which it disintegrated into several small Turkish beyliks.

Starting from the late 13th century, the Ottomans united Anatolia and created an empire encompassing much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, becoming a major power in Eurasia and Africa during the early modern period. The weakening of the Ottoman Empire by the beginning of the 20th century led to the Armenian Genocide as well as major atrocities against Assyrians and Pontic Greeks. After the Ottoman Empire collapsed following its defeat in World War I, parts of it were occupied by the victorious Allies. The Turkish War of Independence, initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues, resulted in the establishment of the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president.

Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. The country's official language is Turkish, a Turkic language spoken natively by approximately 85% of the population. About three quarters of the population are ethnic Turks and about a fifth ethnic Kurds. The vast majority of the population is Muslim. Turkey is a member state of the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE and the G-20 major economies. Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and having joined the EU Customs Union in 1995. Turkey is also a member of the Turkic Council, Joint Administration of Turkic Arts and Culture, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Organization. Turkey's growing economy and diplomatic initiatives have led to its recognition as a regional power.

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Turkey’s Foreign Ministry lodged a formal protest Monday with the U.S. ambassador over “aggressive” actions by American security personnel during violence between Turkish guards and protesters as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Washington earlier this month.

 The summoning of the ambassador to Ankara, John Bass, sharply escalated a diplomatic rift between Turkey and the United States after the violence.  Footage of the brawl that was widely circulated on social media prompted outrage in the United States, calls for the prosecution of the Turkish guards and even the expulsion of  Turkey’s ambassador to Washington.

American and Turkish officials have provided directly contrasting versions of how the violence unfolded. Local police said the Turkish guards savagely attacked a peaceful protest outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence as Erdogan was visiting.  The footage of the melee showed what appeared to be Turkish security guards kicking and choking protesters as police struggled to contain the unrest. It also showed Erdogan watching, from a distance, as the fighting raged.  

Erdogan’s critics seized on the bloody altercation — and a similar flash of violence during the Turkish president’s visit to Washington last year — as indicative of his government’s iron-fisted approach to protests and dissent at home.  

But Turkish diplomats faulted the local police, saying they had failed to quell an “unpermitted” and “provocative” demonstration.

 
 The Turkish Foreign Ministry’s statement on Monday went even further, criticizing “the inability of U.S. authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage of the official program.” And it demanded that the United States conduct a “full investigation of this diplomatic incident and provide the necessary explanation.”  

The statement faulted “U.S. security personnel” for “aggressive and unprofessional” actions against the Turkish foreign minister’s protective detail, without saying which security personnel were involved or what exactly occurred.  

Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, confirmed in a statement that Bass had been summoned by the Turkish Foreign Ministry “to discuss the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel on May 16.”  

“As we noted previously, the conduct of Turkish security personnel last week was deeply disturbing,” she said. “The State Department has raised its concerns about those events at the highest levels.”

The spiraling argument appeared to sour what by all accounts had been a friendly meeting between Erdogan and President Trump before the violence at the protest. In a joint press appearance at the White House, the two leaders were full of mutual praise and spoke of hopes for a closer and more productive relationship.  

But the rift has also laid bare policy disagreements, particularly over the war in Syria, that have stirred tensions between the two allies. Turkey has been angered by the Trump administration’s decision to arm a Kurdish force to fight the Islamic State militant group in Syria in partnership with the United States. Turkey says the group is an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by Ankara and Washington.

Kurdish activists were among the protesters in D.C. on May 16 outside the ambassador’s residence, according to footage of the violence. Some held signs in support of Selahattin Demirtas, the co-leader of a pro-Kurdish political party who is currently in prison and facing prosecution in Turkey. Others held the flag of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish force.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/turkey-condemns-us-over-aggressive-acts-against-its-bodyguards-in-dc-during-president-erdogans-visit-in-washington/2017/05/22/05133db6-3ef4-11e7-b29f-f40ffced2ddb_story.html?tid=sm_Fb&utm_term=.a89f077f7fe5

3 hours ago
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Some 123 Turkish journalists are fugitives abroad, while 159 of them were in jail as of the end of April, according to a report by the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC).

The Freedom of Expression and Press report, which was made possible by the European Union, said 46 new investigations were launched and 20 additional cases were filed against journalists in the first four months of 2017, daily Cumhuriyet reported on May 19.

“In the past four months, Turkey continued to be the world leader with the number of journalists in jail,” the report said, adding that in nearly all of the cases regarding journalists, demands for trial without arrest had been rejected.

The TGC said “it’s inevitable” to come across harsh criticism regarding press freedom in international reports, while asking for all journalists to be released, tried without arrest and acquitted.

Saying that it was “impossible” for journalists to fulfill their duties properly, thus violating the people’s right to obtain information, the association said the problems that journalists face include limitations on freedom of expression and the press, obstructions preventing journalists from freely conducting their work because of political and economic pressures, as well as hindrances that ensure journalists who use their right to criticize or refuse to report news from a certain political perspective cannot find work.

“Opposition newspapers, TV channels and the internet media, as well as intellectuals and columnists who use their right to criticize, should be tolerated,” it said, adding that “censorship and self-censorship were on the rise.”

The TGC also criticized the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) for “contradicting the concepts of the freedom of expression and press in a democratic society.”

“The shutting down of newspapers, magazines, agencies, internet news websites, publishing and printing houses and associations and foundations weren’t developments acceptable in terms of international human rights and concepts of law,” it said.

Meanwhile, prominent Turkish journalist Kadri Gürsel, who has been under arrest for over 200 days, sent a message to the International Press Institute (IPI), which he is a member of.

“They want to intimidate journalists,” Gürsel said in his message sent to the IPI annual media congress in Hamburg.

Gürsel’s message was read by his wife, Nazire Kalkan Gürsel, Deutsche Welle’s Turkish service reported on May 19.

Elsewhere, Council of Europe commissioner of human rights, Nils Muiznieks, urged Turkish authorities to abide by the practices of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as he commented on the situations of arrested journalists and human rights activists, Cumhuriyet reported on May 19.

Muiznieks especially mentioned the conviction of journalist Murat Çelikkan to 18 months in prison in the shut-down daily Özgür Gündem case over “making propaganda” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), saying that “the development is worrying.”

“Çelikkan’s conviction provides a worrying illustration of a continuing trend of judicial actions targeting human rights defenders and an increasingly wide range of other civil society actors,” Muiznieks said.

3 days ago
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The arrest of daily Cumhuriyet’s chief online editor has triggered criticism from unions and politicians, with many stating that the court ruling is a blow against press freedom and freedom of expression.

An Istanbul court on May 15 ordered the arrest of Oğuz Güven on terror charges three days after he was detained over a tweet shared on the daily’s Twitter account regarding the death of a chief public prosecutor.

Police detained Güven on May 12 in the early hours of the morning, citing a tweet reporting the death of Denizli Chief Public Prosecutor Mustafa Alper after he was killed in a car accident in the Merkezefendi district of the western province of Denizli.

Alper was the first chief public prosecutor to launch an investigation into the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) after the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the group.

In his testimony, Güven reportedly said he did not tweet the report himself, adding that it was “shared completely by mistake” in a bid to break the news immediately.

He also noted that the tweet was deleted 55 seconds after it was shared on Cumhuriyet’s official Twitter account.

“That is an indication of the fact that the tweet was posted by mistake,” Güven reportedly testified, denying any “bad intent” behind the post.

“When our reports are examined, it is seen that there is no bad intentions against the slain prosecutor,” he also said.

However, the court ordered the arrest of Güven on charges of “making propaganda of a terrorist organization,” saying that he has legal responsibility over social media posts shared on the daily’s Twitter account.

“There is nothing we can do in the face of this decayedness,” Güven said before being sent to Metris Prison.

After the court ruling, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul lawmakers Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Barış Yarkadaş as well as Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC) Secretary-General Sibel Güneş released statements on the issue.

“This news report has no insults or terror propaganda. Our journalist friend Güven has been doing his job for the last 40 years. He is a person who has always adopted an attitude against terrorist groups. Unfortunately we are facing practices that are similar to coup eras,” Yarkadaş said May 15, adding that the case will go down in history as “the headline case.”

Tanıkulu said that “the courthouse became a graveyard for justice and judiciary.”

“There are no words. There wasn’t any era in history in which the judiciary has been exploited and destroyed by itself every day,” Tanrıkulu said.

Güneş, meanwhile, said “if journalists are arrested over a headline, then it can definitely be said that no one has the freedom of expression.”

“Arresting journalists doesn’t solve the problems in this country. Journalism is not a crime. Journalism is a profession carried out for the people’s right to obtain news,” Güneş said.

TGC head Turgay Olcayto also criticized the court ruling, saying that “the oppression and cruelty on journalists in Turkey is ongoing.”

DİSK Basın-İş, the union to which Güven is a member, decried the arrest, saying that “they are witnesses to Güven’s journalism.”

Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS), meanwhile, said the arrest of Güven is “an intimidation against all media.”

4 days ago
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Germany on Friday demanded access to a female German journalist it said had been held in police custody in Turkey since last month without consular representation.
In a development likely to further strain bilateral ties, foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer said Turkish authorities had failed to inform Berlin about the detention of the reporter, Mesale Tolu.

"That is regrettable," he said, adding that no German diplomats had managed to gain access to her since her arrest on April 30th.

"It is important to us that we can take care of her as a German citizen."

Schäfer said it was believed that Tolu - who according to media reports was born in Germany with Turkish citizenship but in 2007 became a German national - no longer holds a Turkish passport.

He said Turkish authorities were obligated to handle the case of Tolu, who is being held in a prison outside Istanbul, "not only with decency but according to international law".

"We will make this point loud and clear" to Turkey, Schäfer said.

German public broadcaster ARD reported on Thursday that a Turkish anti-terror police unit forcefully barged into the apartment of 33-year-old translator Mesale Tolu and arrested her. Friends told the broadcaster that the arrest had taken place in the middle of the night while she and her two-year-old son were sleeping.

Tolu has been working in Istanbul as a journalist and translator for a socialist-leaning news agency, as well as for a left-wing radio station, which was recently shut down by Turkish authorities. Her permanent address, though, is in Neu-Ulm, Bavaria, according to her brother.

She has been placed in a women's prison since May 6th, and a judge has reportedly issued a detention order against her for terrorist propaganda and membership in a terror organization.

Turkish news portal Diken reported that Tolu was arrested as part of a larger police raid in which 16 people were detained who also worked for her news agency or for left-wing political groups. The raid may have been planned ahead of May 1st protests, according to the report.

Schäfer said Tolu's young son was being cared for by her family.

Tolu's brother, Hüseyin Tolu, told broadcaster Radio 7 that the family has so far been denied contact with her.

"We are not allowed to see her, we are not allowed to visit her," the brother said, adding that he had traveled to Turkey to learn what happened to his sister.

"When we asked what the reason was [for the imprisonment], they said that it was still under investigation and they would not comment."

The brother noted that his sister's lawyer has so far been denied access to records. The lawyer has only been allowed to see her client three times since the arrest. The brother said that if even if his sister has in fact committed a crime, the family wants her to be transferred to the German justice system.

Schäfer said there were currently six German nationals in Turkish custody, four of whom also have Turkish citizenship.

The arrest is likely to only heighten tensions between Germany and Turkey, especially after another German-Turkish journalist was arrested and detained in February, also for terrorism-related accusations.

Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel is currently facing charges in Turkey of spreading terrorist propaganda and inciting hatred after he reported on emails acquired through a hacker attack against Turkish energy minister Berat Albayrak, who also is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the Turkish justice system’s decision to detain Yücel “bitter and disappointing”.

Erdogan’s ongoing crackdown and power grabs since an attempted coup by military members against him nearly a year ago has continued to result in conflicts with Germany and the European Union.

Amid campaigning for an ultimately successful referendum on April 16th to expand his presidential powers, the Turkish President accused German officials of using “Nazi measures” after a number of local authorities in Germany cancelled campaigning, citing security and logistical concerns.

In response, Merkel said her country could ban any future campaign events on its soil.

More recently, after Erdogan said he may consider holding another referendum to reinstate the death penalty - which Turkey abolished in 2004 in its ongoing bid to join the EU - Merkel said Germany would block Turkish citizens from voting inside Germany.

Turkey on Thursday also condemned Germany for reportedly granting asylum to Turkish military personnel with alleged links to the coup.

1 week ago
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Turkey has blocked Wikipedia, the country’s telecommunications watchdog has said, citing a law that allows it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.

Later on Saturday, Turkish authorities said they had sacked more than 3,900 civil servants, and military and police personnel as the purge of alleged anti-government officials continued, and also banned TV dating shows.

The move to close down Wikipedia access is likely to further worry rights groups and Turkey’s western allies, who say Ankara has curtailed freedom of speech and other basic rights in the crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup.

“After technical analysis and legal consideration … an administrative measure has been taken for this website,” the BTK telecoms authority said in a statement on its website.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/29/turkey-blocks-wikipedia-under-law-designed-to-protect-national-security?utm_content=buffer3c0cc&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

3 weeks ago
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The founder and chairman of the Persian-language Gem TV company has been killed in Istanbul.

Saeed Karimian, 45, was shot dead in the Maslak neighbourhood, along with his Kuwaiti business partner.

The vehicle used in the apparent assassination was later found burnt out. Turkish police are investigating.

Mr Karimian had previously been tried in absentia by a Tehran court and sentenced to six years in prison for spreading propaganda against Iran.

It is understood he died immediately after the gunmen - who were reportedly masked - opened fire on the vehicle on Saturday evening, while his business partner died later in hospital.

Gem TV, which dubs foreign and Western shows into Persian and broadcasts them into Iran, has been criticised by Iran for showing programmes that go against Islamic values and has been accused of spreading Western culture.

3 weeks ago
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The European Union should formally suspend Turkey's long-stalled talks on membership if it adopts constitutional changes backed at a referendum last week, a leading member of the EU parliament responsible for dealings with Ankara said on Wednesday.

Kati Piri said ahead of a plenary debate on the matter that if President Tayyip Erdogan implemented his new charter, giving him even more powers, Turkey would close the door on membership.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-eu-piri-idUSKBN17S0Q7?il=0

on April 28, 2017
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Seven people were arrested for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during protests held in İzmir following a referendum on April 16, the Diken news website reported on Saturday.

According to the report, police detained at least 21 individuals for protesting the referendum results at a park in İzmir’s Bornova district on April 17. Of those, seven were sent to pretrial detention by an İzmir court on charges of “insulting” Erdoğan and several other high-ranking government members.

on April 27, 2017
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img Jawad Khan posted a review

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday vigorously defended his narrow victory in a referendum granting him greater authority, dismissing criticism of the result by Turkish opposition parties, European election observers and protesters while making clear his government was moving on.

“Debate about this issue is now over,” he said in an occasionally combative speech at his sprawling presidential palace that mentioned the 25 million voters who had supported the measure. “We are not going to stop,” he said, according to an English translation of his comments on a state news channel.

His comments came hours after Turkey’s main opposition party demanded that the vote be annulled because of irregularities, and after the European observers released a preliminary report saying the vote “fell short” of adherence to international standards. The complaints, along with scattered protests, dashed hopes that Turkey’s rancorous debates over the referendum would subside after the vote. 

By a razor-thin margin, Turkish voters on Sunday approved constitutional changes that will radically transform the country’s system of government, abolishing the post of prime minister and shifting from a parliamentary system. The new model strengthens the clout of the presidency just eight months after a coup attempt aimed at toppling Erdogan’s government.

The outcome has laid bare deep political divisions in Turkey and could have wider resonance in everything from Turkey’s decades-old bid for membership in the European Union and Turkish interactions within NATO to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in neighboring Syria.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-divided-turkey-opposition-groups-challenge-vote-shifting-powers-to-president-erdogan/2017/04/17/afe0d9e4-2354-11e7-a1b3-faff0034e2de_story.html?utm_term=.1d838c73ee43

on April 19, 2017
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Turkey condemns U.S. over ‘aggressive’ acts against its bodyguards during Erdogan’s visit to D.C.
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