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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 04 February 2023
[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 04 February 2023]
Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the
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★ Turkey is investigating the death of a Turkish migrant who made it to Greece, only to be sent back critically injured, reports the VOA European correspondent Henry Ridgwell.
On the way back to Turkey, the migrant died.
Here is a summary of Henry Ridgewell's article:
Barış Büyüksu thought this was the beginning of a new life. He took these images on the Greek island of Kos in October. A few days later, he was dead.
The 30-year-old paid a smuggling gang to take him to the Greek island. They gave him a fake Bulgarian identity card.
Büyüksu planned to reach Athens — and then take a flight to France.
On October 21, he was waiting to board a ferry. A friend told the family he witnessed police detaining Büyüksu and then bundling him into an unmarked black van.
The following day, back in Büyüksu's hometown of Izmir, his family received a call from Turkish police - who told them their son was dead and bore signs of torture.
The Turkish coast guard says it found Büyüksu in a boat pushed back into Turkish waters. Several other migrants were on board, Turkish officials say.
The initial Turkish autopsy said Büyüksu had injuries consistent with torture: cuts and bruises covering his face and body and internal bleeding.
A Turkish opposition lawmaker raised Büyüksu's death in parliament.
Greek police have not responded to repeated VOA requests for comment, and the coastguard denies pushing migrant boats back into Turkish waters – despite widespread evidence documented by non-governmental organizations.
★ A Turkish court sentenced Fourteen Boğaziçi University students to six months each in jail over their 2021 protest against the appointment of Prof. Dr. Naci İnci as the president of the prestigious Istanbul university.
Two students received additional jail time: One, 18 months, and the other, 14 months.
The Istanbul 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance found the students on trial guilty of "violating" the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations.
After the appointment of Prof. Dr. Melih Bulu as the president by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in January 2021, the Boğaziçi University students launched a protest demanding his resignation.
Following the months-long protest, Bulu was eventually dismissed from his duty by Erdoğan in July 2021. A month later, again via a presidential decree, it was Prof. İnci who assumed the presidency of the prestigious institution despite the high disapproval rates he received in polls held among the community.
Academics and students have been continuing with their protest against İnci's appointment since then.
In another news, an Istanbul court has ordered a stay of execution of the Boğaziçi University presidency's decision to evacuate the Boğaziçi University Alumni Association from the university campus.
The president of the university appointed by President Erdoğan sees the Association as one of the organizers of the protests.
★ An accident at the high voltage substation caused widespread power outages in and around Ukraine's southern port city of Odesa, Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Saturday.
He ordered Ukraine's foreign ministry to appeal to Turkey to send vessels that carry power plants to come to the city's aid, Reuters reports.
★ According to VOA, the United States warned Turkey about the export to Russia of chemicals, microchips, and other products that the Russians can use in Moscow's war effort in Ukraine, and it could move to punish Turkish companies or banks contravening sanctions.
★ The table of six, an alliance made up of the six opposition parties, is still bickering over the choice of a presidential candidate.
The main opposition Republican People's Party would like to have their chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as the candidate. Others in the alliance do not want to accept this.
Opposition Good Party deputy chair Ümit Özlale has criticized the Republican People's party deputy chair Bülent Kuşoğlu's remarks that the main opposition bloc would dissolve unless Kılıçdaroğlu is nominated. If the opposition alliance was established to have Kılıçdaroğlu's presidential candidate approved, "we are not the approval authority," Özlale said.
Özlale added that they are not against Kılıçdaroğlu's candidacy but, rather, the Republican People's party's officials' approach.
"We're not saying 'We don't want Kılıçdaroğlu'. If [one of the] two Republican People's party mayors (Yavaş or İmamoğlu) is proposed for candidacy, we will not say "no." We want a candidate who will win the election," Özlale told Ekonomim in an interview on February 3.
As we reported to you in the previous weeks, various polls suggest that Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu may not fare well against President Erdoğan in the presidential elections. Either of the two mayors, however, may do much better.
★ Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has claimed that Western countries closed their consulates in Istanbul to "start a new psychological war in Turkey," reports the Turkish daily Duvar. Several countries announced temporary closures, citing security concerns.
"They are on the verge of starting a new psychological war in Turkey on a day when we announced that 51.5 million tourists had arrived and that we had a tourism income of 46 billion dollars," Soylu claimed during a meeting on Gendarmerie force in the Turkish capital Ankara.
Soylu stated that some ambassadors issued a declaration to "destabilize Turkey."
On Thursday, Turkey summoned envoys from Germany, Belgium, Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United States to a meeting at the Turkish foreign affairs ministry following the temporary closure of consulates.
As we reported to you last week, several Western countries issued security alerts,
stating that the risk of terrorist attacks in Istanbul increased, especially in Beyoğlu and Taksim areas and where tourists frequently visit, following Koran-burning incidents in Europe that might incite anti-Western protests.
After the warnings, Interior Minister Soylu said they detained 15 people and arrested five of them.
★ According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, in its latest global democracy index Turkey ranked 103rd among 167 countries.
The Economist categorized Turkey as a "hybrid regime" with democratic and autocratic elements and said that many indicators that make up the ranking could not go any lower since they are at the lowest point for Turkey.
The ranking system takes into consideration five criteria:
- electoral process and pluralism,
the functioning of the government,
democratic political culture, and
The report writes that Turkey's democratic values are eroding. "The elections are generally not free and just, the media is under censorship, the rule of law is very weak, and corruption is widespread."
Criticizing the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the report said Turkey's decreasing trend shows the "increasing authoritarianism of the autocratic president."
Also, the new election law enabled the Justice and development party to appoint pro-government judges to election boards and made it more difficult for small parties to enter parliament through electoral coalitions, according to the report.
★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated his unconventional hypothesis that reducing interest rates will lead to lower inflation, reports the Turkish daily Duvar.
"(Other countries) have constantly increased interest rates. On the contrary, I fought to lower it. We will lower the key interest rate even further from nine percent," Mr. Erdoğan told the state-run TRT channel on February 1.
"During my prime ministry, we reduced the interest rate to 4.6, and inflation was around 6.4 percent. Interest is the cause inflation is the result. Some people may not believe this. I believe so. Economics is my expertise, and its results are obvious: Inflation dropped to 64 percent from around 86 and will decrease further," he claimed.
Turkey's Inflation Research Group, established by a group of independent academics, announced the country's annual inflation rate as 122 percent in January Official rate is only 58 percent.
★ According to Bianet, another index found Turkey dropping five places.
The Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International ranked Turkey 101st among 180 countries.
The organization has been preparing the index each year since 1995.
In 2022, Turkey only received 34 points out of 100, moving down two points from 2021.
In 2013, the score for Turkey was 50.
Transparency International said the following in its report:
"After Turkey was placed on the grey list by Financial Action Task Force in 2021, it is believed that the country continues with the declining trend due to factors such as the claims that the amount of unregistered money entering the country has increased after the Russia-Ukraine war, the politicization of the judiciary, the narrowing of the democratic sphere, the oppression the opposition faces and that the country is not following the European Court of Human Rights rulings,"
The full article by Bianet is Read more >> here <<
★ Çambükü villagers resisting proposed construction on meadows and fertile arable fields won at court, reports Bianet, an independent news outlet.
The province governor wanted an organized industrial site built in the area.
"While it was a requirement to search another area for within Amasya province that is not arable land," the judgment pointed out and added that the governor had not made such a search.
The court, therefore, ruled that the decision to build an organized industrial site was not legal and noted that there would be irrecoverable losses if the plan were to go into effect.
Çambükü is in the Taşova district of Amasya province in northern Turkey.
The full article from Bianet is Read more >> here <<
★ On February 2, Turkish police detained Barbaros Şansal, a renowned fashion designer, at İstanbul Airport after he arrived from Northern Cyprus.
The detainment was due to a warrant issued by the İstanbul 20th Penal
Court of First Instance as part of a case against him for "degrading the military and police organization of the state."
The court had issued the order despite his lawyer's notification to the court that Şansal could not give a statement because he was abroad.
Over the years, Şansal, a politically outspoken figure, has had several court cases against him. In 2017, a mob who called him a "traitor" attacked him at İstanbul Atatürk Airport.
★ According to Bianet, Eren Erdem, a former parliamentarian from the Republican People's Party, was acquitted in the case that he stood trial for insulting the president for tweeting "Hunger=RTE," the initials of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The prosecutor had requested four years and eight months of imprisonment for Erdem for "insulting the president" in the case.
At the hearing, Erdem said, "We, the citizens of the Republic of Turkey, have the freedom to express our opinions."
Bianet points out that thousands were investigated and stood trial for insulting the president in Türkiye in recent years.
The Justice and Development Party-led government investigated about 45,000 people, and nearly 10 thousand stood trial for "insulting the president" in 2020, according to figures compiled by main opposition Republican People's Party deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu.
The prosecutors then filed lawsuits against 9,773 people that year including 290 children.
Before Mr. Erdoğan's regime, the investigations for insulting the president were about 10% of what it is today.
ARTS AND CULTURE
Edited by Saadet Ejder
★ In a recent survey conducted about Turkish street food, survey participants chose kokoreç as the most loved street food in the country, among others like döner and simit. 18.5 percent of the respondents said kokoreç is their favorite street food.
Kokoreç is a form of a sandwich with grilled sheep's intestines with a history that originated in the Balkans' Orthodox Christian culture as a special Eastern food. Read more >> here <<
Döner kebab, sometimes known here in the U.S. as gyros, took second place with 18.2 percent. Europeans got to know this special dish after the arrival of Turkish workers in the 1960s. It is the top-selling fast food in Germany, outselling hamburgers. Read more >> here <<
14.5 % of the respondents said their favorite street food was simit, referred to here in the U.S. as Turkish bagel. It is a sesame-coated small
Read more >> here <<
★ After a successful stretch at Pi Artworks London in November 2022, Fabio Lattanzi Antinori's solo show, "Chased by Unicorns," will be at Pi Artworks Istanbul from February 4.
Accompanied by several new works and performances, Antinori's show looks to value systems in society, the tension between personal gain and corporate profits, and the politics of surveillance.
Alluding to unicorns – or start-ups that have become synonymous with disruptive software, hyper-fast growth, and an income stream very often derived from tracking and monetizing data - this exhibition grows from the artist's interest in language, the dynamics of power and the way market values and ideologies permeate and shape social relations.
Central to the show is a series of sculptural and printed works comparing Raymond Williams' notion of keywords, a tool to understand how "important social and historical processes occur within language" with the calculated use of current digital marketing keywords.
In the second part, the artist reflects on the unsustainable nature of the current economic model and in the course, happiness, coopted by advertising and brands, can be used to perpetuate a culture of consumption and production.
Fabio Lattanzi Antinori, born in Rome in 1971, currently lives and works in London. He received the Lucas Artists Fellowship and First Plinth Award from the Royal Society of Sculptors, and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art selected him for its International Artist in Residence Program in Seoul.
His works are in the collections of SeMA – Seoul Museum of Art, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
★ On February 15, Professor Amanda Phillips, University of Virginia, will have an online lecture on The "Studenica Silk," a piece of cloth from the 1400s. It is one of the treasures in the monastery of Studenica in Serbia, weaved for the Ottoman Sultan Beyazıt, who reigned between 1389-1402.
Dr. Phillips will offer an overview of the silk's historical context, discuss its technology and material, and later life in Studenica and elsewhere.
The American Institute for Southeast European studies is cosponsoring the lecture.
Here is where you can register for the lecture Read more >> here <<
★ Professor Melis Hafez, Virginia Commonwealth University, talked about her latest book titled "Inventing Laziness: The Culture of Productivity in Late Ottoman Society." The talk venue was the Research Center for Anatolia and Civilizations auditorium on the Koç University campus.
A synopsis of the book is as follows:
In the early modern era, Ottoman political treatises did not regard the people as the source of the state's problems.
Yet in the nineteenth century, as the imperial ideology of Ottomanism and modern discourses of citizenship spread, so did the understanding of laziness as a social disease that the "Ottoman nation" needed to eradicate.
Asking what we can learn about Ottoman history over the long nineteenth century by looking closely into the contested and shifting boundaries of the "laziness - productivity" binary, Melis Hafez explores how "laziness" can be used to understand emerging civic culture and its exclusionary practices in the Ottoman Empire.
★ Refik Anadol, a world-renowned Turkish artist and pioneer of the "data picture" aesthetic, has created a new installation in Davos to address the climate crisis, one of humanity's greatest challenges.
The data sculpture, which he called "Artificial Realities: Coral," is based on nearly 1 billion images of coral processed with machine learning classification models. It connects a digital ecosystem of data and a natural environment brimming with countless living ecosystems. "Generative artificial intelligence reconstructs nearly (entirely) realistic creatures outputs that hopefully one day we can use underwater to create an ecosystem," he explained.
"Due to climate change, we lost a majority of our coral. The question at the forum is how we can use the arts, science, and technology to reconstruct what was lost."
Stating that the World Economic Forum attaches importance to creative AI techniques to address issues like climate change, Anadol said he used cutting-edge algorithms in the project, "probably the most complex artificial intelligence in the world in this field." "Our goal was to answer the question of what we can do to recover the value of the first damaged assets, like coral.
"I think this is the first time a Turkish artist shares work on this platform and this scale. I am very proud." Under the theme of "Cooperation in a Fragmented World," names influencing global politics and the business world participated in the forum
between January 16-20.
See more pictures >> here <<
(go to the bottom of the page that opens up)
★ The United Nations World Tourism Organization has listed Turkey's Birgi village among the 32 "Best Tourism Villages of 2022" from 18 countries for its over 5,000 years of history and its classical Seljuk and Ottoman houses.
The initiative also recognizes villages for their commitment to innovation and sustainability in all aspects – economic, social, and environmental.
The Network provides several benefits, including onsite and online training, sharing of good practices, and international brand recognition and awareness.
See the United Nations world tourism organization site on Birgi Read more >> here <<