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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 01 May 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 01 May 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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★ Turkey is in full lockdown to control the recent surge of COVID-19 infections. Along with the lockdown came a ban on alcohol sales throughout the country. Some Turks see the ban as an attempt by the Justice and Development Party administration to impose their Islamic ideology on the populace.

  The full lockdown will last until May 17 morning.

  Turkey is currently one of the top countries in COVID-19 infections per million people in the world.

  In related news: According to the Turkish daily Duvar, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Minister of Health Dr. Fahrettin Koca have made contradictory statements regarding the supply of COVID-19 vaccines in Turkey. Two days after Koca said Turkey would face a vaccine shortage over the next two months, Erdoğan said the country has enough doses.

  Shortly after Erdoğan's remarks, Dr. Koca announced that Turkey's official Medicines and Medical Devices Agency had granted emergency use authorization to Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

  Mr. Erdoğan claimed that Russia's Sputnik vaccine would be arriving in Turkey soon.

  On April 27, the Russian Direct Investment Fund said a Turkish pharmaceutical firm would also produce Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine at its plants.

★ Some 61% of workers are in sectors that are fully exempt from the lockdown rules, the Turkish media reports.

  On the first day of the full lockdown, public transportation sites and vehicles were so crowded in Istanbul that the authorities said they would increase the number of Metro Istanbul runs.

  The congestion in public transportation came thousands left Istanbul just before the lockdown to other provinces.

★ According to analyst Kristina Jovanovski, Turkey has recently backed away from its more aggressive foreign policy amid domestic economic strain.

  However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's attempt to reset relations with neighboring rivals in the Middle East is being met with a lukewarm response as his domestic popularity continues to decline.

  Among the countries that the Erdoğan administration is trying to improve relations with are Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

  "They feel kind of annoyed and frankly frightened by Erdoğan," said Atilla Yeşilada, an Istanbul-based economist. "Erdoğan to them is a dangerous revolutionary who likes to meddle in other people's business," Yeşilada adds.

  Read more >> here <<

  In related news, while Turkey has been picking up fights with its neighbors, the British daily The Times reports that Turkey's rival Greece is reaching out to those neighbors. Along with the burgeoning relationships came a joint military exercise. Last month Saudi Arabia's F-15 warplanes participated in a joint exercise with Greek Jets in the Aegean Sea. In addition, F-16s from the United Arab Emirates and Israel were there also.

  Read more >> here <<


★ Turkish police intervened to halt May Day protests in Istanbul on Saturday, detaining hundreds of people.

  Trade unions and political groups traditionally observe May Day by gathering at Taksim Square in Istanbul. However, in recent years authorities repeatedly ban demonstrations there.

  This year riot police limited access to the square, clashing with protestors seeking to reach the area from nearby streets.

  On Thursday, the Interior Ministry ordered police to prevent any video or audio recordings of on-duty officers.

  Later on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took credit for May Day, saying it was during his time as prime minister that the government declared it the day of labor and solidarity.

★ Turkish prison authorities have prevented politician Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu from posing with a victory sign, his son said.

  According to Salih Gergerlioğlu, authorities also prevented his father from posing with a paper which said: "My soul cannot be imprisoned."

  Former pro-Kurdish peoples Democratic Party lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, also a human rights defender, was sentenced to prison in 2018 for making terrorism propaganda by sharing a news article on the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party on Twitter back in 2016.

  The politically motivated charges led to him being stripped of his parliamentary status on March 17 despite the lack of a final ruling from the Constitutional Court.

★ Turkey's Constitutional Court found a rights violation when the state refused to grant permission for the prosecution of police officers in a case concerning the injury of a Gezi Park protester.

  Erdal Sarıkaya lost sight in one eye during the 2013 Gezi Park protests and has since tried to sue the government for his injury.

  The top court said that Article 17 of the Consitution, which governs the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, was violated and ordered the state to pay Erdal Sarıkaya 3,857 Turkish Liras in compensation, daily Evrensel reported on April 29.

  In 2013 the Gezi movement united hundreds of thousands of people across Turkey against the increasingly authoritarian style of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party.

  The government's contested plan to reconstruct an Ottoman-era barracks in Gezi Park got the movement going. The park is a small green area on the edge of Taksim Square.

★ An Istanbul appeals court has overturned the 15-month jail sentence handed down to food engineer Bülent Şık. A court Convicted him in 2019 for publishing a study that linked toxic pollution to a higher rate of cancer in western Turkey, online news portal Diken reported on April 29.

  The Istanbul Regional Courts of Justice said that Şık's study could not be a confidential document. The court added that the Ministry of Health itself was responsible for revealing the information included in such academic work.

  Prosecutors launched the case against Şık after publishing the results of his study as a four-part series in the daily Cumhuriyet in April 2018.

  The Turkish Ministry of Health initially commissioned the study to see whether there was a connection between toxicity in soil, water, and food and the high incidence of cancer in Western Turkey.

  Working for five years, Şık and a team of scientists discovered dangerous pesticides, heavy metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in multiple food and water samples from several provinces in western Turkey. They also found water in several residential areas to be unsafe for drinking because of lead, aluminum, chrome, and arsenic pollution.

★ President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has issued a decree on the new action plan of his government that vows to strengthen the rights to a fair trial and freedom of expression in Turkey.

  The presidential decree published in the Official Gazette on April 30 says that the government will implement the plan over two years.

  However, legal experts and ordinary citizens say that they expect no more words but deeds from rulers of the country. They point out a weak record of Turkey on human rights, with the imprisonment of several people on trumped-up charges.


★ According to the Turkish daily Duvar, the majority of the Turks opposed the Istanbul canal project. President Erdoğan, who once called it a crazy project, wants to build a waterway from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea, rivaling the natural passageway Bosporus.

  The estimated cost of the project is over $10 billion. Experts say, giving the history of underestimating projects by the Erdoğan administration, the expected bill would be more like $20 billion.

  Experts also warned that the canal would not be profitable. President Erdoğan is thinking that they can charge ships passing through it thousands of dollars. With the oil use declining, and pipelines taking over the transportation of oil from around the Black Sea petroleum sites, the number of ships passing through such a canal will be significantly less than what Mr. Erdoğan is estimating. Also, by international treaties, passage through the Bosporus straight is free.

★ Turkey ranked first in Europe in the number of fatal work accidents that occur annually, data from the European Union statistical agency Eurostat and Turkish Social Security Institution revealed.

  On average, at least four workers die in work accidents in Turkey each day, according to Turkish Social Security Institution data.

  In 2018, nearly 431,000 work accidents occurred in Turkey. Out of them, near 1550 of them ended up being fatal, meaning one worker lost his life per 280 accidents.

★ Turkish foreign trade deficit shrunk by an annual 15 percent to $5 billion last month, the Turkish Statistical Institute said.

  Exports increased by 42 percent to $19 billion, while imports rose by 26 percent to $24 billion, the institute said on Friday.


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi and Selin Taylak


★ According to the TRT, digital artist Sedat Boynueğri blends traditional Turkish motifs with technology, turning the latest trend into NFTs, non-fungible tokens.

  His goal is to extract the unique motifs of 81 provinces of Turkey and introduce them to the world.

  A non-fungible token, NFT, is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. One can use the NFTs to represent items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files.

  Sedat Boynueğri studied in the U.S. and UK. He returned to Turkey about a year ago and began to study traditional Turkish motifs more closely. His interest in motifs has started at a young age. He was curious about the patterns on his grandmother's rugs. After returning to Turkey, he worked with a rug merchant at the Ankara Fortress for five months. That's how the digitization of the motifs started.

  Sedat Boynueğri told TRT News:

  "I learned the Anatolian motifs with him. At first, we made my grandmother's rug. We tried to play with the patterns there. We tried to be inspired by Rumi."

  Together with his team, Boynueğri creates unique motifs of all Turkish provinces. And they turn those motifs into NFTs with today's technology.

  Boynueğri further says:

  "Our dream is to create a motif map of the cities in Turkey, and we want to say that we identify this city with this motif. Hopefully, we want to try to see all 81 provinces from a different perspective."


★ Turkish painter and sculptor Selma Gürbüz died April 22, 2021, of complications from COVID-19, the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reports. She was 60 years old.

  She left behind her exhibition A Place Called Earth that started at Istanbul Modern on November 3, 2020. The event turned into a farewell from a retrospective prepared with works from her 35 years of art life.

  In the fairy-tale world of Selma Gürbüz, there are people, animals, gods, nature, fairy tale figures, symbols from Anatolia to Africa, light plays, the beings of a surreal world, and art lovers are in front of each of them. It takes the viewers to different worlds while making them think. Her exhibition at Istanbul Modern was to end at the end of March. However, the museum extended it until June 31.

  Selma Gürbüz was one of Turkey's leading names in contemporary art. In addition to Turkish museums, her works are in the collections of the British Museum in London, Fondation Maeght in Paris.


★ The TRT news reports that a project is underway to transform Fatih Aliye Müderris Mansion in Hatay province of Turkey into a film museum.

  The mansion has been a venue for many popular Turkish films and TV series.

  A farmer had the mansion constructed in 1949 on a 160,000 ft.²-lot as his residence. It has ten rooms, one depot, five storage rooms, a wide inner court, and a pool.

  The governor of Hatay province, Erdal Ata, visited the mansion and received information about the restoration work. He said afterward that it was in danger of collapse due to neglect. "We could not have left such a mansion that hosted many films in such a state," the governor added.


★ The Turkish director from Turkey's Mediterranean province of Antalya, Sevgi Hirschhöuser, who received many awards with her first film Toprak, now received the Best Foreign Film Award from the 29th Arizona International Film Festival.

  In January, she returned with two awards from the 4th International Film Festival of Ahmednagar, India, with her first feature-length film Toprak. The movie gave Chris Hirschhäuser the fifth cinematography award for Best Picture.

  The Israeli musician Shaul Bustan also won the Best Music Award at the same festival for his music for the film.

  With the addition of the award from the Arizona festival, the number of awards for the film reached 35.

  Toprak is the dramatic story of a simple family in rural Turkey dealing with poverty, family traditions, and religious heritage. Since the death of his parents, the teenage Burak has lived with his uncle Cemil and grandmother in a remote Turkish village. The small family unit has been trying to make a living by selling fruits. While the religious Cemil is satisfied to live his life in poverty, Burak struggles to leave for the city and attend college. When grandmother falls sick, both Burak and Cemil have to make tough decisions that will change their lives forever.

  Read more >> here <<

  Trailer for the movie: Read more >> here <<


★ Ahmet Necdet Çupur's first feature film Naughty Children won the Special Jury Award from the 52nd Visions du Réel - International Nyon Documentary Film Festival in Switzerland, where it made its world premiere.

  In justifying the award for the film, the jury said that Naughty Children is a sincere and universal narration of a tragic domestic conflict.

  The Turkish premiere of the film will also take place in May at the 40th Istanbul Film Festival National Documentary Competition.

  Liman Film, TS Productions, and Jyoti Film are producers of this Turkey-France-Germany co-production.

  Heinrich Böll Stiftung Association Turkey Representation, Turkey-Germany Co-Production Development Fund, CNC France, Sundance DFP production, Doha Film Institute, Hamburg Film Fund, and Berlinale World Cinema Fund supported the film financially.

  Renowned graphic artist Arda Aktaş from Daire Creative design the poster of the film in the post-production phase

  Aktaş previously won awards from Meetings on the Bridge and Antalya Film Forum.


★ Sapphire Art Project opened its doors to artists and art lovers in the socialization area of ​​the Istanbul skyscraper of the same name, the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reports.

  Zeynep Çilek Çimen, herself a painter, has undertaken the art consultancy of the project that carries art to living spaces. Çimen explained that the project started with the invitation of collector Mustafa Tatlıcı and said that the interest exceeded her expectations.

  Referring to the fact that this concept can set an example for other living spaces, Çimen said:

  "At a time when it is difficult to bring people to galleries and exhibitions, we enabled people to be exposed to art in their social areas. It offers an opportunity for artists who struggle to exhibit their works during the pandemic, and art lovers feel a little better in these difficult times.

  The first event of the project featured Turkey's leading young artists, Ayşen Savcı, Beyza Boynudelik, Egemen Kemal Vuruşan, Alp İşmen, Zeynep Çilek Çimen and Derya Geylani Vuruşan.

  The second edition continues with paper works by Alp İşmen and paintings by Recep Çiftçi.


★ Istanbul's Moda Stage online program titled From the Stage will screen the dance theater Balerin on May 9.

  The design, management, and choreography of the play belong to Bedirhan Dahmen. Kemal Aydoğan is the project consultant.

  In creation and dance, Ilke Kodal has its signature.

  Dahmen explains the play as follows: "It is a creative and dynamic process where dance and theater intersect, where the tools of the two disciplines are together. We experiment with creating an additional visual layer with photographs projected onto the ground from the top. "


★ Turkey's Northwestern province of Eskişehir Tepebaşı Municipality has a youth orchestra that has reached out to 2400 kids.

  Fashioned after the Venezuelan youth orchestra El Sistema started to keep the underprivileged youth from crime, Tepebaşı Youth Orchestra has been performing since 2015 with instruments purchased with donations.

  The mayor of Tepebaşı Municipality, Ahmet Ataç, says that the orchestra's goal is to keep away the youth from trouble and direct them to art. He adds that the orchestra so far has given numerous concerts. Due to the pandemic, the training of the youth is taking place online.

★ In archaeology, the following took place last week:

  - In Turkey's Northwestern city of Bilecik, archaeologists are continuing to dig on a vacant lot. So far, they reached a layer containing remains from a 9000-year-old settlement. There will be an open-air museum set up at the site. Currently, the site has a banner that says, "Meet your 9000-year-old neighbors."

  - As part of a project dubbed "The Resurrection of the Ramparts," the city walls of Diyarbakır in southeastern Turkey are undergoing restorations. Experts are also restoring the four gates of the ramparts.

  The walls in their current form date back to the mid-fourth century C.E. Roman empire. There are also remains from even earlier civilizations dating back to 4000 years ago.

  They are the broadest and longest complete defensive walls after only the Great Wall of China. In 2015 UNESCO declared them as a World Heritage Site along with nearby Hevsel Gardens. On the walls, there are 53 inscriptions from various historical periods.

  - In the Northwestern province of Kastamonu, a retired teacher found an ancient grave and objects while repairing the village fountain. He notified the providential museum administration and delivered the finds to them.

  - In the Aegean province of Denizli, the rural police caught three individuals while conducting an illegal excavation. The rural police confiscated 200 coins, 75 other objects, including statues.

  - Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism is lending its support to a project to restore a 131-year-old Turkish bath in Turkey's Black Sea province of Bartın. Built on a 9000 sq. ft.-lot, the structure has an interior space of 3300 sq. ft.

  - Selimiye mosque, the most outstanding work of the 16th-century Ottoman architect Sinan, will undergo a four-year-long restoration work starting this year, Turkish authorities announced. The edifice is in the border province of Edirne in Turkey's Thrace region in Europe. Its construction took place from 1568 to 1575. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.

  - The Kocaeli Metropolitan and the Dilovası municipalities in Northwestern Turkey are collaborating to restore the home of Captain Yahya, martyred at age 29 during the Turkish Independence War in the early 1920s.

  The 1800s structure is a typical Ottoman home. It is in a neighborhood with 700 years of history. Captain Yahya used the home as his headquarters during the war.

  The two municipalities will also work to restore 66 other historic structures in the neighborhood.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 8.28


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


Premier League

* Results for week: 38
Hatay           -      G. Birliği     3 - 1
G. Saray        -      Konya          1 - 0
Göztepe         -      Trabzon        1 - 1
Rize            -      Beşiktaş       2 - 3
Karagümrük      -      Antalya        2 - 2
Kayseri         -      Denizli        6 - 3
Alanya          -      Fenerbahçe     0 - 0
Sivas           -      Malatya        1 - 0
Ankaragücü      -      G. Antep       0 - 1
Erzurum         -      Başakşehir     1 - 2
* Standing in the league as of week ending 38
 1 - Beşiktaş        81
 2 - Fenerbahçe      73
 3 - G. Saray        72
 4 - Trabzon         64
 5 - Alanya          57
 6 - Hatay           57
 7 - Sivas           55
 8 - G. Antep        54
 9 - Karagümrük      51
10 - Göztepe         48
11 - Antalya         43
12 - Konya           42
13 - Rize            42
14 - Malatya         40
15 - Başakşehir      40
16 - Ankaragücü      38
17 - Kayseri         38
18 - Kasımpaşa       37
19 - Erzurum         37
20 - G. Birliği      35
21 - Denizli         28


★ Warsaw, Poland Wrestling Championships

  Murat Firat 67 kg Bronze Men's Grecoroman Kerem Kamal 60 kg Silver Men's Grecoroman
★ In the European artistic gymnastics championships, the Turkish gymnast Ferhat Arican received a gold medal.

★ In the Euroleague basketball championships, Turkey's Fenerbahçe got eliminated. Fenerbahçe Beko Turkey 68–85 (Series: 0–3) Russia CSKA Moscow Istanbul

  Anadolu Efes is in the third place. 27 April 2021 Real Madrid Spain 80–76 (Series: 1–2) Turkey Anadolu Efes Madrid

  29 April 2021 Real Madrid Spain 82–76 (Series: 2–2) Turkey Anadolu Efes Madrid

★ In the European Badminton Championships held in Ukraine, Turkey's Neslihan Yiğit came in second.


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