Tag Archives: Ankara

Turkey: Independent monitors must be allowed to access detainees amid torture allegations

Amnesty International has gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country.

The organization is calling for independent monitors to be given immediate access to detainees in all facilities in the wake of the coup attempt, which include police headquarters, sports centres and courthouses. More than 10,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.

Continue reading Turkey: Independent monitors must be allowed to access detainees amid torture allegations

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan built a 1,000 Rooms Residence for 350 Million Euros

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week unveiled his new palace in the outskirts of the country’s capital, Ankara. The gaudy residence boasts 1,000 rooms and apparently cost some $350 million to construct. Its total area, according to the AFP, encompasses some  2,150,000 square feet. Unsurprisingly, such largesse has led to criticism.

Ahead of the complex’s official unveiling, which took place on Turkey’s Republic Day on Oct. 29, opposition politicians declared that they would boycott the event — one deputy said it made Moscow’s Kremlin compound look “like an outhouse.” It has almost 50 times the floor space of the White House.

View image on Twitter

Activists are also furious that the gigantic complex has been erected in an area that was supposed to be protected forested lands and led to a significant mowing down of trees. Mass protests last year against Erdogan’s government were initially inspired by state plans to build a commercial development in a small park in Istanbul.

Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (known by the acronym AKP) withstood a string of corruption scandals and triumphed in elections this year, which led to the then-Turkish prime minister taking up the role of the country’s President. The opening of the new palace — dubbed the Ak Saray, or “white palace,” but also a play on the ruling party’s name — is rich with symbolism.

Erdogan az új palotájában (Fotó: Adem Altan / AFP)

 

The new structure marks a shift from the Canakya palace in downtown Ankara, which has been the residence of the Turkish president dating back to the republic’s revered founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Arguably, no Turkish leader since Ataturk has dominated the country’s politics as much as Erdogan, who sees the new palace as an echo of the new Turkey emerging under his watch.

“The new Turkey should assert itself with something new,” he recently told reporters. “The presidential office has been arranged in a very special way, we have paid particular attention to this.”

View image on Twitter

Until now, the post of the president has been a largely ceremonial role, but under Erdogan it will clearly not be.

The architecture of the palace is supposed to be a blend of modernism with gestures to Turkey’s Ottoman heritage. Here’s Erdogan himself on the structure’s design:

We need to convey the message that Ankara is a Seljuk capital. We paid great attention to that. We paid attention to Ottoman themes in the interior, also adding elements reflecting the modern world. We had it constructed as a smart building. … [Such are] the requirements of being a great state.

On the left, Google Earth image of the new Ak Saray in Ankara. On the right, the White House in Washington, D.C.

The Seljuks were a Turkic tribe turned political dynasty that entered Anatolia beginning in the 11th century AD. They’re considered the progenitors of the Ottomans, who would go on to build one of the most powerful empires in Europe and the Middle East that lasted until its collapse at the end of World War I.

Turkey emerged out of the ashes of that empire and, under Ataturk’s stewardship, went down a very different path: a secular nationalist state that looked to the West and rejected elements of the country’s Muslim, Ottoman heritage.

Erdogan, who critics accuse of inspiring a creeping Islamization in the country, has taken pains to reclaim that legacy. In an interview in 2011, he told me that it would be “self-denial” for Turkey not to embrace its Ottoman past. He went on:

We were born and raised on the land that is the legacy of the Ottoman empire. They are our ancestors. It is out of the question that we might deny that presence. Of course, the empire had some beautiful parts and some not so beautiful parts. It’s a very natural right for us to use what was beautiful about the Ottoman Empire today.

His new home does little to dispel the impression that he sees himself asTurkey’s new Sultan.

Turkey’s peace with Kurds splinters as car bomb kills soldiers

A Turkish soldier checks cars at a checkpoint in Diyarbakir after the car bombing.
A Turkish soldier checks cars at a checkpoint in Diyarbakir after the bombing. Photograph: Ilyas Akengin/AFP/Getty Images

Kurdish rebels blamed for attack on military police vehicle carrying several officers, as PKK says ceasefire has ‘lost all meaning’ after Turkish air strikes

The fragile peace process between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party, or PKK, appeared to be on the brink of collapse on Sunday after two Turkish soldiers were killed and four others were injured in a car bomb attack which Ankara blamed on Kurdish rebels.

The blast came after Turkey launched air strikes against PKK positions in northern Iraq as well as against Islamic State in Syria, in retaliation for a string of violent attacks last week that Turkey holds both groups – themselves fierce rivals – responsible for.

On Sunday the Turkish foreign ministry said it said it had asked NATO to hold an extraordinary council meeting on Tuesday to discuss its security operations against Islamic State and PKK Kurdish militants.

US officials expressed their support for Turkey’s air strikes on the PKK, saying they “respected Turkey’s right to defend itself”. In a major policy shift, the Turkish government last week agreed to open its airbases for US-led coalition warplanes after the US had grown increasingly frustrated with Turkey’s reluctance to join the fight against the Islamic State.

While some wondered if American support for Turkey’s raids on the PKK was part of the deal reached after lengthy negotiations, others said it was too early to deduce that the US had dropped the Kurds, a major ally in the fight against Isis, in exchange for Turkey actively joining the anti-Isis coalition.

“In the clash between the Turkish state and the PKK, the Americans have always supported Turkey,” Mesut Yegen, a historian of the Kurdish issue, explained. “The real question is what the US would do if Turkey will turn on the PYD,” he said, referring to the Democratic Union party, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK.

The deadly car bomb exploded late on Saturday, when a military police vehicle carrying several officers was travelling to intervene in a traffic blockade close to the predominantly Kurdish town of Lice, according to a statement by the Diyarbakır governorate.

The military had launched a wide sweep to capture the bombers, Turkish authorities said. In coordinated raids throughout the province, at least 21 people suspected to have links to the PKK were arrested on Sunday morning.

The attack came on the heels of a PKK declaration that the ceasefire, agreed upon as part of the peace process started in 2012 in an attempt to end a bloody conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people over 30 years, had “lost all meaning” due to the Turkish military assault, the heaviest since peace negotiations began.

On Friday night, Turkish fighter jets hit several PKK targets, including shelters, warehouses, bunkers and parts of the Qandil mountains, where the Kurdish group’s military headquarters are located, the Turkish authorities said.

One PKK member was killed, and three others were wounded during the attacks, according to a statement published by the People’s Defence Force (HPG), the PKK’s military wing.

In a statement published on Saturday, the HPG denounced the air raids as an “aggression of war” by the Turkish state and vowed to resist.

The operations continued on Saturday, when Turkish fighter jets and artillery forces jointly attacked PKK camps in northern Iraq and Islamic State militants in Syria, with Turkish officials saying the incursion against the jihadis would help create a “safe zone” on Syrian soil alongside the Turkish border.

“As soon as areas in northern Syria are cleared of the [Islamic State] threat, safe zones will emerge naturally,” the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavușoğlu, told reporters on Saturday, adding that these swaths of land could be used to host Syrian refugees.

“We have always defended the establishment of safe zones and no-fly zones in Syria. People who have been displaced can be placed in those safe zones,” he said.

Parliament has been summoned to meet on Wednesday to discuss the security situation.

Turkish police used water cannon to disperse a demonstration in Ankara condemning violence by Isis, an AFP reporter said, with police reportedly arresting about 33 people.

Meanwhile, the leftist opposition Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) has harshly criticised the military operations, saying the attacks on the PKK were a “pretext” and an attempt by the interim Justice and Development party (AKP) government to force early elections after the party lost its parliamentary majority on 7 June.

“This is a plan by the government to set the country on fire in order to secure a single-party government. By creating a militaristic and nationalist climate while pretending to conduct a comprehensive fight with terrorism the government wants to force snap elections,”

a statement from the HDP said on Saturday, underlining the need for renewed dialogue and negotiations in order to keep the peace process, now hanging by a thread, on track.

Since the suicide bomb attack that killed 32 people last Monday, a wave of violence has rolled over the country, including the killing of several police officers for which the PKK claimed responsibility.

Violent protests against the AKP’s failed Syria policies and their stalling of the Kurdish peace process have erupted in several cities all over Turkey. In clashes between pro-Kurdish protesters and the police in Cizre, a 21-year-old man was reported shot in the exchange of gunfire.

In Istanbul, authorities banned a planned “peace march” scheduled to take place on Sunday, citing security concerns and traffic congestion.

Turkish police in Ankara used water cannon and teargas to disperse a demonstration protesting against the AKP’s Syria policies and Isis violence. Thirty-three people were reportedly detained.

Journalist and commentator Oral Çalışlar said that neither the Turkish government nor the PKK had anything to gain from a return to full-scale hostilities.

“In the end both parties will have to sit around a table and continue to talk,” he said. “They know, from years of struggle, that they cannot destroy each other, and that they cannot reach any lasting results through violence. The peace process simply has to continue because of that.”

Miss terrorist “ISIS” dies due to sexual assaults

Shafaq News / Social networking sites and websites published the death of the Austrian “Samra Kizinovic ” 17-year-old, known as the Queen of beauty of ISIS terrorist organization, and the disappearance of her friend, “Sabina Clemovic“.

Samra and her friend, escaped from their home and joined ISIS in April od last year. For its part, the Austrian media confirmed, citing the girl’s family, that the main reason for the death of their daughter, is being exposed to various types of sexual violence.

The “Daily Mail” British newspaper, announced that the two girls disappeared from their homes after confirmed their willingness to join fighting in the ranks of “ISIS” terrorist organization, where they traveled to the capital of Turkey Ankara, and from there to the southern Adana region, then no one knows how the girls moved to Syria.

The two girls continued to publish their pictures on social networking sites, carrying arms with the fighters of the terrorist organization.

Turkey revokes passport of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen

Erdogan és Gülen (AFP)

  • President Erdogan has accused Gulen of trying to set up ‘parallel state’
  • US-based Gulen says Erdogan is leading Turkey towards totalitarianism

The Turkish government has cancelled the passport of ally-turned-foe Fethullah Gulen, local media reported on Tuesday, the latest salvo in a bitter feud between the US-based Muslim cleric and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan and his ruling AK party accuse Gulen and his supporters of seeking to establish a “parallel state” in Turkey and of orchestrating a corruption investigation in 2013 which briefly threatened to engulf the government.

Gulen, who denies the accusations, stepped up his own criticism of Erdogan, saying he was leading Turkey “towards totalitarianism”.

CNN Turk said on its website that Turkey had informed US officials on 28 January that it was revoking Gulen’s passport because it was issued based on a “false statement”. Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

A Turkish foreign ministry official said he could not confirm the media reports.

fethullah gulen
The Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, in September 2013. He has been in self-imposed exile since 1999

 

The move could bring Ankara a step closer to issuing a formal extradition request for Gulen. Washington is expected to reject such a demand, further fraying bilateral ties already strained over regional policy and US concerns over what some see as Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism.

Erdogan has already called for Gulen to be deported. In December a court issued an arrest warrant for the cleric, who had been a close ally of Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted party for many years after it came to power in 2002.

After the graft allegations emerged in 2013, however, Erdogan, then prime minister, purged Turkey’s state apparatus, reassigning thousands of police and hundreds of judges and prosecutors deemed loyal to Gulen.

Turkish authorities have also conducted raids against media organisations seen as close to Gulen, triggering criticism from rights groups and the European Union, which Turkey still aspires to join.

Hidayet Karaca, head of the Samanyolu broadcaster who has been jailed since December, said on Tuesday the case against Gulen and senior media executives was politically motivated.

“The police raids and arrests have become part of a strategy by the AKP government to silence the free press. It’s no longer possible to discuss judicial independence in Turkey,” Karaca said in a written response to questions from Reuters submitted through his lawyers.

“Turkey’s Eroding Democracy”, Gulen accused Erdogan – who remains popular in Turkey – of using his electoral successes to ignore the constitution and suppress dissent.

“By viewing every critical voice as an enemy – or worse, a traitor – they are leading the country toward totalitarianism,” he wrote.

Athens condemns Erdogan comments about Cyprus

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan inspects the honor guard during a visit to the occupied north of Cyprus on Monday.

Athens reacted angrily on Monday to calls by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a “two-state” solution to the Cyprus problem and claims that Greece is not “doing its duty” as a guarantor power, saying the comments were “disappointing” and “simply confirm Ankara’s persistence in its aggressive policy” on Cyprus.

Addressing a joint news conference in the Turkish-occupied north of Nicosia with Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, Erdogan opposed the prospect for a settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation.

Sources said Erdogan denied receiving a letter from Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, which was delivered to him at his inauguration ceremony in Ankara last week by Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

On arriving in the occupied north of the island, Erdogan said Turkey would “not allow Turkish Cypriots to be incorporated within the Greek-Cypriot state as a minority” and called on Greece and Britain to intensify efforts to break the deadlock, claiming that “the Cyprus problem will be solved very quickly if Greece does its duty as a guarantor power as Turkey has done.”

He added that Ankara would allow the reopening of a former Greek Orthodox seminary near Istanbul if Athens permitted the construction of traditional mosques with minarets in the capital and allowed Muslim communities in Thrace, northern Greece, to directly appoint muftis.

In a strongly worded statement issued in response, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras accused Erdogan of trying to “equate certain of Greece’s international obligations with Turkey’s heavy burden of responsibility regarding the Cyprus issue” and described the parallel as “historically and legally groundless and, thus, politically unacceptable.”

Hungary consulate letter sparks new Istanbul alert

Hungarian mission becomes sixth foreign office to receive letter containing suspicious substance since Friday.

Turkish emergency services were called to the Hungarian Consulate in Istanbul on Monday morning as reports emerged of a suspicious letter containing yellow powder having been opened in the building.

The city’s provincial governorate confirmed that an emergency team was sent to the consulate in the Levent district of Istanbul, a commercial center.

There are no immediate reports of any injuries.

Today’s alert brings to six the number of consulates which have received suspicious items containing an unidentified yellow substance. Toxicology test results from five other consulates Friday are expected today in Ankara.

It is thought that today’s letter had arrived on Friday — included in the original wave of suspicious packages — but had lain unopened until this morning.

Letters containing a yellow substance were delivered to the Canadian, German, Belgian, French and American Consulates on Friday, sparking fears of a chemical attack. 

Twenty-five staff members from the various consulates were hospitalized for observation. There have been no reports of any injuries so far.

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