President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 22 Jan. 2013: What kind of democracy is it? This democracy will be the instrument for the purpose - it should be opened to debate. Gore democracy can never be a goal to us. We will see democracy as a tool only when we deal with science.*
|Accusations of war crimes in Afrin
supported by Turkish forces.
94 former army officials with FETÖ links arrested
At least 94 former Turkish military personnel have been arrested for suspected links to the Gülen movement (FETÖ), according to a judicial source.
The suspects arrested were among the 131 former military officials detained in countrywide anti-terror operations carried out on Sept. 16, the source said, who wished to remain anonymous due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
According to the source, the arrested suspects included former army commanders, lieutenants, noncommissioned officers and sergeants. The operation was carried out after prosecutors in Istanbul issued the arrest warrants in a probe into FETÖ’s infiltration into the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
Erdogan files complaint over Greek newspaper's insulting headline
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lodged a criminal complaint against four senior staff employed by a Greek newspaper about an insulting headline, according to Turkish media. The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that the president's lawyer, Huseyin Aydin, filed the complaint on Monday about the headline run in Dimokratia, a right-wing paper, on September 18.
The headline "Siktir Git Mr. Erdogan", which means "F*** off Mr. Erdogan" in Turkish, appeared next to a photo of the president, and included the English translation.
In the complaint submitted to the Ankara prosecutor's office, Aydin described as "suspects" the four people involved - Manolis Kotakis, the author of the article, editors Andreas Kapsampelis and Yorgos Giatroudakis, and editor-in-chief Dimitris Rizoulis.
Following the complaint, the prosecutors in the capital launched an investigation against the newspaper. "Considering the silence of the Greek public, it is understood that this moral collapse is not limited to marginal segments," the complaint said, according to Anadolu.
Turkey’s Aktif Bank facilitated money transfers for Taliban, porn industry - report
FinCEN Files, a number of leaked classified documents from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, shed a light on Turkey's Aktif Bank central role in facilitating financial transactions deemed suspicious, Deutsche Welle said on Monday.
Aktif Bank, owned by Ahmet Çalık, a close business ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is suspected of carrying out money laundering on grand scale "for a customer network that includes the scandal-ridden German financial service provider Wirecard and shady figures from the porn industry," DW said.
Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan's son-in-law, was CEO of Aktifbank's parent group, Çalık Holding, at the time when several "suspicious transactions" were made, it said.
FinCEN Files was leaked to BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The files from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), is a bureau of the U.S. Read the full article
EU sanctions Turkish company accused of breaking Libya embargo
The European Union imposed sanctions on Monday on a Turkish shipping company accused of breaking a U.N. arms embargo on Libya and whose vessel was involved in a naval incident between NATO members France and Turkey in June.
The asset freeze of Avrasya Shipping, which the EU said operates the Cirkin cargo ship accused of smuggling weapons to Libya, is likely to anger Ankara, which denies arms trafficking and said the ship was carrying humanitarian aid.
“The Cirkin has been linked to transports of military material to Libya in May and June 2020,” said the EU’s Official Journal, which published the sanctions.
The EU has a naval mission to uphold the United Nations Security Council embargo on Libya, which has been in turmoil since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi. In an incident in the eastern Mediterranean on June 10, a French frigate on a NATO mission tried to inspect the Cirkin cargo ship, according to the French armed forces ministry.
‘Musician on Trial for ‘Insulting the President’
The case against musician Ferhat Tunç on the charge of ‘insulting the President’ is held at Istanbul Büyükçekmece Penal Court of First Instance No 14 on September 15, 2020. The court issued a detention warrant for Ferhat Tunç and adjourned the trial to February 23, 2021.
Police Intervention to a Protest in Istanbul
The police prevented the protest of Istanbul Chamber of Medicine members who wanted to march from Istanbul Medicine Faculty Hospital to Haseki Training and Research Hospital, to demand an urgent act plan from the government against Covid-19; moral and material support to health workers; Covid-19 to be accepted as an occupational disease for health workers and cancellation of Health Transformation Plan, on September 15, 2020. The police prevented the march on the grounds of Fatih Sub-Governorate’s interdict as a part of precautions for Covid-19.
Social Security Institute refuses policewoman’s martyrdom due to ‘15-minute’ gap
Turkey’s Social Security Institute (SGK) refused to declare a policewoman as a “martyr,” who was killed in a traffic accident on the way to her workplace in the western province of İzmir in 2018, as she was not on duty at the time of her death with just “15 minutes difference.”
“The accident happened at 18:45 on Nov. 18, 2018. Buket Keleş’s shift was supposed to start at 19:00 and as she was not on duty, she is not a martyr,” said the SGK officials, according to daily Hürriyet. Murat Keleş, the brother of Buket Keleş, started a campaign on change.org for his sister to be granted a martyr’s status.
“My sister got off the bus and was going to cross the road to reach her workplace. She was not there for a friendly visit but to do her duty, SGK asks us now why she went 15 minutes earlier.”
Turkish lira hits fresh record low but central bank to avoid rate hike
Turkey’s central bank is poised to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged this week even after the lira weakened to a fresh all-time low.
Economists say that pressure on the currency and the central bank’s dwindling foreign currency reserves mean its dovish monetary policy stance, backed by the government, is unsustainable and it will be forced to raise rates more than previously expected in the remainder of the year.
Erdoğan's son-in-law played critical role in Zarrab's sanctions scheme
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and the country’s current Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has been accused of facilitating a U.S. sanctions-busting scheme for Iran led by Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab.
Zarrab’s former courier Adem Karahan told OCCRP and Courthouse News that he had been assured by his boss that Turkish authorities were in on the scheme and would not cause problems.
The scheme started in 2008, in the form of suitcases filled with gold acquired over illicit oil sales, helping Iran evade U.S. economic sanctions over its nuclear programme. At least 200 tons of gold was taken to Dubai, and currency to Iran, Russia and United Arab Emirates until 2013. The Turkish government was aware of the scheme from the beginning, Karahan said. Read the full article
Turkey’s president launches new unit to wage information warfare
A new unit to counter “misinformation tactics waged against Turkey,” in Turkish authorities’ words, will work under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the country’s Official Gazette reported on Friday.
The government established the Strategic Communication and Crisis Management Department to counter “misinformation” that employs methods of “psychological warfare,” according to the official information. The purpose of the new department was described as “ taking under control any kind of manipulation and disinformation against Turkey.”
One of the duties of the unit as defined in the presidential decree is “Countering any kind of manipulation and disinformation against the Republic of Turkey by identifying psychological operations, propaganda, and misinformation.” Read the full article
Turkish soldiers tortured two Kurdish villagers they had detained, throwing them from a helicopter after battering them, eyewitnesses claim.
A medical report for one of the villagers states that he suffered injuries consistent with a fall from a height.
Military forces reportedly detained Osman Şiban, 50, and Servet Turgut, 55, on Sept. 11 while working on a farm in the eastern city of Van.
According to a parliamentary question directed to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu by Murat Sarısaç, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, the villagers were detained by soldiers and taken away in a helicopter, then were admitted to a hospital in serious condition two days after their detention.
#Şırnak/Beytüşşebap’ta iki yurttaşın helikopterle kaçırılarak askerlerce işkence yapılmasını #Meclis gündemine taşıdık.— Murat Sarısaç (@muratsarisac) September 17, 2020
Yaşanan olay vahimdir, sıradan bir olay değildir. Çünkü yaşananlar artık 90’lı yılları da aşmış durumda. Buna karşı siyasi refleks gösterilmeli. pic.twitter.com/sqw82Z7xDr
The soldiers interrogated the two villagers under torture and threw them from the helicopter, Sarısaç claims, citing their families. The two were put in intensive care. Şiban was discharged on Friday but is reportedly suffering from memory loss due to his injuries, while Turgut is still in intensive care.
Askerlerin gözaltına alınıp “helikopterden attığı" iddia edilen ve 2 gün sonra yoğun bakımda oldukları öğrenilen iki kişiden Osman Şiban'ın gördüğü işkence fotoğraflandı. Şiban, işkenceden kaynaklı hafıza kaybı yaşıyor.https://t.co/euNOkKMYNG pic.twitter.com/V9Q0fWixnJ— Mezopotamya Ajansı (@MAturkce) September 18, 2020
The Mezopotamya news agency tweeted a photo of Şiban with bloodshot eyes and bruises on his face. Lawyers for the villagers filed a criminal complaint against the soldiers, Mezopotamya reported.
According to the report villagers on the scene while the two were being detained allege that the soldiers threatened to shoot them when they protested the detention.
Trials were suspended in August due to the judiciary recess; however, attempts to bring journalists into line continued under violent forms.
After a one-month judiciary recess, legal proceedings resumed in Turkey under the shadow of the coronavirus. The number of coronavirus cases and deaths are once again on the rise in the country.
Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül stated that strict measures will be taken against the coronavirus in courthouses and that the judicial videoconferencing system SEGBİS will be used widely in hearings.
Trials were suspended in August due to the judiciary recess; however, attempts to bring journalists into line continued under violent forms.
Investigations and interrogations against journalists continued, and incidents of psychological and physical violence increased at the same pace.
In August, at least 15 journalists were subjected to psychological and physical violence:
During a row in CHP’s İzmir Province Youth Branch Congress, 6 journalists covering the incident were assaulted. First two groups fought with each other, before targeting the journalists. Journalists were prevented from taking footage and then battered. One journalist’s phone was confiscated, the computer of another was broken, and a chair was hurled at another’s head. One journalist obtained a legal medical report for battery and filed a criminal compliant.
İzmir Association of Journalists, İzmir Young Journalists Platform and Progressive Journalists Association’s İzmir Branch jointly organized a press conference to condemn the incident and demanded an investigation to be initiated. CHP’s İzmir branch leaders paid a visit to the Association of Journalists to apologize. Furthermore, they announced that they had established an investigative committee to identify the assailants, initiate disciplinary procedures, and shed further light on the event.
Journalist Cengiz Anıl Bölükbaş, working for Evrensel Newspaper’s Diyarbakır Office, indicated that on August 24th, 2020, he was withheld in a shop by three individuals, who claimed to be police officers and attempted to “convince” him to become a police informant, after listing detailed information on him, his family and professional activities.
A member of MHP’s Central Executive Committee, Osman Şişman threatened journalist Şirin Payzın, by posting the obituary of Payzın’s father, along with the words, “Chased from the nightingale’s nest, you are wallowing in sewers on the other side of the river; you will soon face THE END (sic) for what you have done and will do against the Turkish fatherland; as the Turk’s roots strangle you, you will go mad, gasping for air.”
Yıldıray Çiçek, an advisor to the MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli threatened Karar Newspaper’s columnist Ahmet Taşgetiren, saying “The nationalists have not yet forgotten your insults and calumnies… Someone may pluck off your beard, watch out…”
Journalist Gökhan Özbek stated on his social media account that the police raided his home, saying “The police searched my house. They claim to have received a tip-off. They have left now. I opened the door after seeing their police IDs”.
Kanal D correspondent İbrahim Konar and cameraman Volkan Kamber were assaulted physically while following a news story, and their technical equipment was smashed. The journalists filed a criminal complaint.
The owner of the news web site “Haber Ünye Portalı” published in Ünye, Ordu, Samet Girme stated that he was battered for 40 minutes by two individuals, who asked him “Why do you write pieces against Hilmi Güler?”, before inserting a gun’s barrel in his mouth. Girmeç filed a lawsuit against the mayor of the Ordu Metropolitan Municipality, on the charge of “incitement to crime”, and against the two assailants on charges of “willful injury, threat, insult, violation of liberty”.
The owner of Yörem Newspaper published in Karacabey, Bursa, Şaban Önen, was assaulted by 4 individuals in the parking lot of the Municipal Truck Garage. It was claimed that the assailants were the relatives of the district mayor.
In Antalya, unidentified assailants opened fire on journalist Yakup Kocabaş’s home.
At least 8 journalists were detained or summoned to testify; faced lawsuits, investigations and/or criminal complaints:
In Batman, an investigation was launched against İdris Yayla, one of the first journalists to report on the specialized sergeant Musa Orhan’s sexual assault on the 18-year-old İpek E. Journalist İdris Yayla stated that, at the police station, he was asked questions such as “Why did you pen such a news story? Why did you post it on social media?” and that “he was prevented from contacting the family and investigating the incident while following the story.”
Journalist Mehmet Erol was summoned to testify by the police due to social media posts by Democratic Regions Party (DBP), where he used to work as media advisor. Erol had previously been tried and acquitted for the same matter. In the statement which he gave while being accompanied by his lawyer, Erol refused the accusations saying that the posts in question were shared after he resigned from his position at DBP.
In the first weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, the government had launched the donation campaign titled “Biz bize yeteriz Türkiyem” (“Turkey can take care of its own”) and published IBAN numbers for bank transfers. Journalist Hakan Aygün had criticized the campaign with a social media post that read “Oh, those who believe in IBAN”, and was arrested for ”inciting the population to hatred and enmity, or humiliating the people”. Although he was released at the first hearing, a separate indictment was drafted against him and the two cases were merged. Aygün was detained a second time for the same matter and released after a police interrogation.
Journalist Eylem Akdağ was taken into custody in Ankara, while following the protests against the government’s attempt to withdraw Turkey from the İstanbul Convention.
Author Sebahattin Önkibar stated that President Erdoğan filed a lawsuit against him on allegations of insulting him in a YouTube video.
A lawsuit was filed against journalist Can Ataklı who, in his program titled ‘Gün Başlıyor’ on Tele 1 TV, asked how the taxes collected for earthquake preparedness were spent. He faces 1 year 2 months to 4 years 8 months in prison.
A lawsuit was filed against Rize Nabız Newspaper’s Concessionaire and Rize Branch President of Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD) Gençağa Karafazlı, for his news story on “President of AKP’s Rize Province Assembly and his wife, who were acquitted from charges of membership to FETÖ, before being offered jobs in a state-owned bank,” with 50 thousand TL claimed for damages. Access bans were placed on the news story in question, and on news stories about the access ban on the news story.
CHP’s İzmir deputy and Chief Media and Corporate Communications Advisor to the Party Chairman, Tuncay Özkan announced that he would file a lawsuit against Süleyman Özışık, who made various claims about him in an article published on Türkiye Newspaper.
Separately, Özgür Boğatekin, an editor and writer with Adıyaman Gerger Fırat Newspaper, had been tried for 4 of his articles criticizing the Gerger District Governor of the period, and sentenced in 2015 to 1 year 15 days in prison on the charge of “successive slander”. He had appealed against the verdict. 5 years on, the Court of Cassation has upheld the sentence. Boğatekin was placed in prison. However, on the next day, the reinforcement of the sentence was deferred due to coronavirus measures, and he was released.
Although most hearings were suspended in August due to the judiciary recess, the 29th hearing of the trial against Mehmet Baransu -in prison since March 2015- and Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar and Yıldıray Oğur took place.
These journalists stand trial for the news stories published in the now shuttered Taraf Newspaper in 2010, where it was claimed that “Some groups within Turkish Armed Forces planned a coup in 2003”.
Baransu faces 35 to 75 years in prison, while Altan, Çongar and Oğur each face 20 years to 52 years 6 months in prison.
The prosecutor is expected to present his opinion as to the accusations in the next hearing scheduled for October.
In September 60 journalists will appear in court in 7 provinces in Turkey.
(This report has been written by Press in Arrest editor Yeşim Yavuzer.)
HRFT Documentation Center Human Rights Report
September 1-18 , 2020 about torture and ill-treatment in Turkey.
(09/185) Torture and Ill-Treatment in Prison…
It is learned from the news coverage of September 17, 2020 that, 6 prisoners in Sincan Prison are transferred to other prisons under coercion. Names of prisoners and prisons they are transferred to are: Mahmut Konuk (Adana Kürkçüler F Type Prison), Acun Karadağ and Alev Şahin (Kayseri Bünyan Women’s Closed Prison), Nazan Bozkurt (Gebze Women’s Prison), Mehmet Dersulu (Bolu F Type Prison) and Armağan Özbaş (Kırıkkale Keskin Prison). 6 people who were participators of “I Want My Job Back” protests in Yüksel Street, Ankara, were detained on August 13, 2020 and were arrested on August 22, 2020.
(09/186) Allegation of Torture and Ill-Treatment Under Custody in Van…
On September 11, 2020, 2 people (Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut) were detained by soldiers in Çığlıca hamlet of Çatak district of Van, and they were taken away by helicopter. It was found out 2 days later that, they were admitted in intensive care unit of Van Regional Education and Research Hospital. It is learned from the news coverage of September 17, 2020 that Osman Şiban was discharged from intensive care unit and has memory loss. The news reports cover photographs of Osman Şiban at hospital, with blood and bruises in his eyes. Osman Şiban was given a medical report from a hospital he was taken on September 11, 2020 which states blood coming from his digestive canal besides eye bruises, and trauma caused swellings on head, neck and face.
(09/094) Torture and Ill-Treatment in Prison…
Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), Association of Families of Prisoners (TUHAY-DER) and Van Bar Association declared their report about Patnos L Type Prison on September 9, 2020. It is learned from the report that 17 prisoners are kept in wards for 8 people, and 24 prisoners are kept in wards for 15 people. It is also stated in the report that prisoners are not given cleaning supplies for protection form Covid-19 pandemic; the water given to them is dirty; social and sport rights are prevented; newspapers asked by prisoners are not given to them, and their petitions are not pun into process.
It is learned from the news coverage of September 9, 2020 that prisoners in Diyarbakır Women’s Closed Prison are forced to wear double handcuffs during transfers to hospitals, courthouses, etc.; surveillance cameras in prison are recording bathrooms and toilettes; and prisoners are subjected to strip search at prison administration.
(09/079) Torture and Ill-Treatment Under Custody in Uşak…
It is learned from the news coverage of September 8, 2020 that 27 people who were detained through an Uşak based investigation on August 31, 2020; were subjected to strip search and psychological pressure through interrogations called “private interview”. 22 of detained people were released with a ban on leaving the country while 5 of them were arrested on September 4, 2020.
(09/069) People Detained and Subjected to Torture and Ill-Treatment of Police in Şırnak…
On September 7, 2020, 3 people (İbrahim Kızılkaya, Resul Vesek and Abdulmütalip Tetik) are detained in house raids in Cizre district of Şırnak. The surveillance camera records of Abdulmütalip Tetik’s house which are covered by media, shows special operations police officers with long barrelled weapons and snow masks on their faces raiding the house, forcing Kahraman Tetik, the person who opens the door, to knee down at the door and a police officer kicking him at his waist while another police officer getting out of the house and kicking him at his back.
(09/050) Torture and Ill-Treatment Under Custody in Istanbul…
It is learned from the news coverage of September 4, 2020 that, 18 people who were detained in police intervention to the press declaration for International Day of Peace on September 1, 2020 in Sarıgazi neighbourhood of Sancaktepe district of Istanbul, were subjected to torture and ill-treatment at Sancaktepe Police Station.
18 people were released on September 2, 2020 with a ban on leaving the country and on judicial control conditions. Detained people were: Metin Özken, Volkan Atmaca, Hakan Salman, Fırat Çağlar, Başak Yeşilot, Umut Doğan, Ulaş Serdar Budak, Beyza Çapar, Doğukan Uçan, Bünyamin Abay, Sedef Özer, Devrim Ürün, Eren Kaya, Beritan Kurt, Fırat Doğan.
(09/049) Torture and Ill-Treatment Under Custody in Urfa…
It is learned from the news coverage of September 6, 2020 that, 3 people (Hamdullah Esen, Tayip Temel and Mehmet Sait Yardımcı) who were detained on the charges of ‘being an illegal organisation member’ and ‘aiding to an illegal organisation’ in Viranşehir district of Urfa on September 4, 2020, were subjected to torture and ill-treatment at Anti-Terror Department of Diyarbakır Security Directorate.
Sezai Akın, lawyer of Mehmet Sait Yardımcı stated that his client’s clothes’ were torn, and there were blood marks on them while his body had bruises at the time when he could meet his client. It is reported that Hamdullah Esen and Tayip Temel were not allowed to see their lawyers.
(09/013) People Subjected to Torture and Ill-Treatment of Gendarmerie in Edirne…
It is learned that 2 people (İsa Sefa and Halis Güven) who were detained by gendarmerie, in Edirne on August 30, 2020, in allegation of illegal attempt to flee, were subjected to torture and ill-treatment under custody. It is reported that 2 people were injured at their faces and bodies.
It is learned that 2 people got a medical report evidencing the physical violence and will make a criminal complaint against officers on duty.
One of these 2 people, İsa Sefa, is arrested by the court on the charge of ‘border violation’ on September 1, 2020, while Halis Güven is still under custody.
(09/011) Torture and Ill-Treatment in Prison…
It is learned from the news coverage of September 1, 2020 that, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was not allowed to have a non-contact visit with his children at Edirne F Type Prison, on the grounds of precautions for Covid-19 pandemic.
(09/002) Torture and Ill-Treatment in Prison…
It is learned from the news coverage of August 31, 2020 that in Hatay T Type Prison, wards are over-capacity and the food given to prisoners is not enough.
Council of Europe media freedom alerts: Turkey