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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 03 April 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 03 April 2021]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

TURKISH CULTURAL PROGRAM, every Saturday from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M.

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★ As is the case around the world, Turkey is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infections. The increase prompted the authorities to lockdowns in almost all provinces of Turkey.

  The Ministry of Health announced on Friday 42,300 new cases, a record for the country. The total official death reached almost 32,000. Independent experts claim that the actual death toll is a lot higher and blame the government for underreporting for political purposes.

  Many Turkish physicians and scientists say that the measures taken against the peak are inadequate, the daily Cumhuriyet reported on March 31.

  In some Turkish provinces, the mutant varieties of the virus now cause 95% of the infections, Minister of Health Dr. Fahrettin Koca said.

  Opposition parties and others condemned President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government last week for organizing a convention for the ruling Justice and Development Party with thousands of people. Journalists reported seeing many attendees violating social distancing rules, not wearing or improperly wearing masks.

  Dr. Fahrettin Koca dismissed the criticism.

  Also in the news, the Turkish authorities have been using a Chinese-developed vaccine so far. However, this week 2.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Turkey. Health Minister Dr. Koca said that the number would soon reach 4.5 million in the coming days. Tests indicate that the Pfizer vaccine is superior to the Chinese developed one in the protection it affords.

  Meanwhile, Hong Kong authorities put more than 50 Turkish Airlines staff into quarantine after the personnel on a cargo plane for the airline tested positive for COVID-19 after arrival.

★ In related news, according to the daily Duvar, five kids who shared a flute in school infected 14 family members, Turkish agencies reported on April 2.

  One expert noted that the reopening of schools on March 1 increased the number of cases in Turkey.

★ A persisting shortage of chickenpox vaccines in Turkey is creating a public health concern about a new epidemic, the Turkish Medical Association noted.

  Parents have reported not getting access to the treatment for their infants, who should have received an injection before their first birthday.

  "The Health Ministry buys this vaccine from Chinese Sinovac, the same company they bought COVID-19 vaccines from," Turkish Physicians Association Family Practitioners Department Chair Dr. Emrah Kırımlı noted.

  Measles and tetanus shots are also low in supply sometimes, Dr. Kırımlı added.

  Another health-related news: An expert oncologist from the Turkish Physicians Association said that the restriction of diagnostic work in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cause a "cancer pandemic" in the future.

★ In the past few months, we have reported to you about the protests at the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. The protests mainly carried out by students were targeted towards the new president appointed by the government. Both students and the faculty at the prestigious University want an election to choose the president.

  In the meantime, Turkish authorities arrested scores of student activists. On April 2, a court in Istanbul started trials of 23 students, two in jail. The security personnel barred Members of Parliament from the main opposition Republican's People's party and pro-Kurdish peoples Democratic Party entering the courtroom, the daily Duvar reported.

  When the security personnel intervened, a brawl ensued. Eventually, the members of Parliament made it into the courtroom.

  After the proceedings, the court released the two jailed students.

★ Turkish authorities have detained 100 sheep in Turkey's southeastern province of Urfa. Main-opposition Republican peoples party parliamentarian Mahmut Tanal asked if the sheep were terrorists.

  Southeastern Turkey sees a significant amount of violence between the government and the rebel Kurdistan workers party. It is not unusual for government authorities to detain people, but it is the first time they have detained farm animals.

  The authorities said that the sheep were grazing on land belonging to the general director of agricultural enterprises.

★ According to the Anatolia News Agency, defense chiefs of Turkey and the U.S. held a phone call on April 1, discussing regional security and bilateral defense cooperation.

  Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin exchanged views and underlined the significance of strategic relations during the talk, according to Turkey's Ministry of National Defense.

  According to the Pentagon during the conversation, Secretary Austin asked his Turkish counterpart that Turkey should not retain the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

  Turkish acquisition of the Russian missile system resulted in a U.S. and NATO decision to remove Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program. The U.S. and NATO say that Russia could use the advanced Russian system to spy on the F 35 planes.

★ According to Bloomberg, the Turkish lira gained the most in two weeks after the new central bank governor signaled he would not stray from his predecessor's hawkish policies.

  The currency at one time during the week was trading around 8.4 Turkish liras to a dollar. However, it ended the week at 8.1 Turkish liras to a dollar.


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi and Selin Taylak

★ The members of Turkey's Association of Script Writers (SIYAD) determined the best of Turkish films for 2020. The Association held the awards ceremony online due to the pandemic. Actor Tuğrul Tülek presented the ceremony.

  This year was the 53rd year the Association gave out its awards.

  You Know Him (
Nasipse Adayiz,) written and directed by Ercan Kesal, won five awards, including the Best Film Award. At the ceremony, Noah Land (Nuh Tepesi) won four, The Antenna (Bina) three, and Chronology (Kronoloji) one awards.

  Actor Nur Sürer and documentary filmmaker Can Candan are the winners of the Honor Awards this year. The winner of the Labor Award is the famous projectionist Ali Koçoğlu.

  Unlike previous years, SIYAD Awards also included a category of films that were only available to viewers online in 2020. SIYAD chose Mank, shown on Netflix, as the Best Film Online in this category. The Painted Bird, which Bir Film brought to Turkey, won the Best Foreign Film Award, which SIYAD selected from among the foreign films that screened in Turkish movie theaters last year.

  Other awards are as follows: 


★ Turkish director Ferit Karahan's Brother's Keeper won the International Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI )at the Berlin Film Festival. Karahan's film competed in the Panorama category.

  The film takes place in a remote village in Eastern Turkey. It is the story of bureaucracy and a student who gets ill at a boarding school. The film turns a critical eye towards stigmatized social relations characterized by hierarchy, bureaucracy, and authority.

  Ferit Karahan is also the winner of the Best Film award with his 2014 film The Fall from Heaven in the 50th Antalya Golden Orange Festival.

  A summary of the movie  >> here <<   The trailer of the movie >> here <<

★ Turkish director Uluç Bayraktar, who made a name for himself with TV series such as Ezel, Karadayı, Inside, and Babil, returned from the Snowdance Film Festival in Germany with the best film and best screenplay awards.

  9.75 started its festival journey at the Sao Paulo International Film Festival, where it premiered. The leading actor of the film Nejat İşler won the "Best Actor" award at the Dhaka International Film Festival in Bangladesh last month.

  Adapted from Mehmet Eroğlu's novel 9. 75 Square Centimeter, in addition as Nejat İşler, among its actors 9. 75 features names such as Funda Eryiğit, Berkay Ateş and Menderes Samancılar. 9.75 tells the story of writer Ahmet Kemalettin, stuck between east and west.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Turkey is no different than the west when it comes to diversity and representation in the awards circuit., Binnaz Saktanber wrote in the Turkish daily Duvar.

  Antalya Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the country and the closest thing to the Turkish Oscars, awarded only three best director awards to women since its start in 1964.

  Istanbul Film Festival, the most internationally well-known of the bunch, has six best film winners directed by women in its 38-year history. This year though, it seems like things are getting slightly better, adds Saktanber.

  Ghosts (Hayaletler), the feature debut from Azra Deniz Okyay, coming fresh from her Grand Prize at Venice Film Festival's Critics Week, received the Best Director as well as the Best Film in Antalya, a first in the festival's long and troubled history.

  Ghosts tell the story of a single day in the lives of three women: dancer Didem (Dilayda Güneş), cleaner İffet (Nalan Kuruçim) and activist Ela (Beril Kaya), all trying to carve an existence for themselves in one of Istanbul's toughest ghettos.

  Zeynep Dadak's latest lives in the same spectrum, although it is much closer to the documentary side. The film has received Special Mention at the 39th Istanbul Film Festival in 2020.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan

★ The internationally-renowned Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has received $245,000 in local currency to help finance his latest film from a fund launched by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Turkey to support the country's filmmakers, the Turkish daily Duvar reported.

  Ceylan received the highest amount of any director selected. The ministry allotted $2.3 million for 30 projects, including those by other critically-acclaimed directors such as Özcan Alper and Reha Erdem. Erdem received $165,000 for his newest film, while Alper was granted $110,000 for his latest, which is to star the popular German-Turkish actress Sibel Kekilli.

  Nuri Bilge Ceylan, one of Turkey's most globally-respected directors, won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 with his film Winter Sleep. He has written, produced, and directed eight feature films. In some of them, he also acted.

  Ceylan is known for his exceptional cinematography and challenging, lengthy films, which often feature scenes of dialogue that last for half an hour or longer.


★ The daily Duvar also reported on March 27 that the legendary Atlas and Rexx movie theaters in Istanbul have closed down. They had already suspended their operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, amid growing financial problems, they have announced that they will not open their doors again.

  The Atlas movie theater had opened its doors to the public in 1949. The Rexx started in 1920 under the name Apollon.

★ Last week, we told you that the British auction house Sotheby's was to auction a portrait of the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the magnificent. The auction house put up the painting for sale at an initial value of 60 to 80,000 pounds.

  The portrait has been in the private collection of a French family since the 19th century.

  We received the news this week that the portrait fetched 350,000 pounds, approximately $484,000. The purchaser will also pay a significant amount of commission to the auction house.

  An individual calling into the auction house purchased the portrait. The auction house did not disclose the identity of the purchaser.

  The auction on March 31 also included a portrait of Mihrimah Sultan, daughter of Süleyman. Titian, the 16th-century Venetian artist, made the painting. The painting sold for $83,000.

  The Istanbul Metropolitan municipality was also present at the auction. They purchased antique copies of the Koran and other ancient manuscripts for about $210,000. One of the manuscripts is 1200 years old.

  Ottoman velvet work from the distinguished collection of Edgar Vincent, 1st Viscount d'Abernon sec portrayed, was also on auction.


★ April 1 to 7 is the Cancer Week in Turkey. This year for the first time, an unusual social responsibility project will take place during the week.

  Eight oncologists who devoted their years to the treatment of their patients and actress Salih Bademci sang the song You Are Not Alone! for cancer patients and recorded it as a clip.

  DMC Music published the clip on all digital platforms on April 1, the first day of Cancer Week.

  The organization PI Women's Cancer Association will benefit from the income from the song.

  The Association chair Arzu Karataş has stated that cancer patients, whose treatments are continuing during the pandemic, felt great loneliness due to staying at their homes with the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

  She added: "These patients are experiencing psychological challenges while struggling with cancer. They stay isolated and lonely. As an association, we have been providing online psychiatry and psychotherapy support to strengthen them psychologically since May last year. With the income we earn from this song, we will have the chance to offer this support to more of our female patients."

  Bahçelievler Memorial Hospital also has thrown its support behind the effort to help cancer patients. In cooperation with Bahariye Sanat Istanbul, a group exhibition of Life is Beautiful has started on April 1 at Bahçelievler Memorial Art Gallery with the participation of 20 artists.

  The organizers stated that the event is taking place to emphasize giving life a chance. The exhibition can be viewed at Bahçelievler Memorial Exhibition Hall through May 1 and also on the webpage www.bahariyesanat.com.

★ İş Sanat's online April program has started with the Camerata Saygun concert on the first day of the month.

  The classical music ensemble takes its name from Prof. Ahmet Adnan Saygun, composer of the first Turkish opera Özsoy. Violinist Prof. Nuri İyicil established it in 2005, and its lead violinist is Mehmet Yasemin.

  The ensemble has been the first guest of İş Sanat with its romantic period repertoire consisting of works by Edward Grieg, Antonín Dvorák, Edward Elgar, and Alexander Borodin.

  The concert can be viewed on İş Sanat's YouTube channel and website after its premiere on April 1 until the end of the season.


★ Turkish  rural police confiscated a 1300-year-old mosaic portrait in the western province of Bursa, the daily Duvar reported on March 26.

  The mosaic depicts a woman.

  Police detained all five suspects.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 8.1


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 59/41 Showers
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 68/55 Showers
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 50/32 Snow
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 63/54 Showers
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 72/55 Showers
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 63/50 Showers
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey      : 33 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: 31 inches
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey      : 78 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey   : 48 inches
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey         : 59 inches
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey       : 39 inches


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz

★ Badmington: DWF International Challange Gniezo, Polish open badmington tournemnt Turkey's Nazli Inci and Bengisu Cetin duo received the gold medal in womens.

★ Euroleague Basketball:

  Fenerbahce - Barcelono 73-82 in Istanbul

  Baskonia - Anadolu Efes - 101-111 in Spain

★ In the world cup prelimiaries, Turkish national soccer team had a drwa 3-3 with its Estonina counterpart.


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