Aug 212015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan99GetSmart

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Turkey recently started a new digital crackdown on critical and independent media. However, the Turkish government has been involved in ‘online security’ policies as far back as 2007 with the law numbered 5651, Law Regulating Digital Publications, which has very quickly expanded from its original aim and started targeting political dissent and criticism. The law originally had been designed to punish those involved in child pornography, yet was later expanded to also protect national symbols at the first draft.

Over the years, the law numbered 5651 has experienced several revisions which always made the law even worse than it has been. The original version of the law foresaw a child-protective, mature content filter that would be compulsory for all users and everyone would have to pay extra for this “service” by the state. An estimated number of more than 90.000 websites have been blocked due to this law and many keep getting added on a daily basis. Turkey still is by far the worst country in filing content removal requests from world internet giants such as Twitter, Google and Facebook.

Since the general elections that ended 13-year-governing AK Party’s single-party rule on June 8th, the government has started military operations against own citizens. So far death toll is countable by the hundreds, and independent/critical media platforms are being subjected to censorship due to government intentions to control flow of information. Over a hundred news agency and newspaper websites have been closed down by government’s telecommunications authority and the decision of Gölbaşı courts in Ankara. The court mandates blocking access to websites do not even mention a reason for the decision. However, due to the latest update of the law numbered 5651, based on Article 8, the Prime Minister may request blocking access to a website due to national security reasons, and there is no further questioning necessary for the court.

The websites that are blocked appear with a line stating that it is a precaution against further escalation of violence; making up a new category of ‘preemptive censorship’ in the thick book of repressing media in the country. Majority of the censored media platforms have been quite active in the regions where military operations are taking place.

Even though the officials of the censored media platforms apply to courts demanding a reason for blocking of access, they return without any answers. Experts state that this proves a violation of the constitutional rights of citizens as well as international agreements, of which Turkey is a part.

Currently thousands of online platforms that have political criticism are officially banned in Turkey, yet many users circumvent the censorship mechanisms, thus reaching the sites. Yet, government’s plans seem to go a step further nowadays. In the past few weeks, when the military operations in the Kurdish dominated southeast have been at its highest, phone lines and internet access as a whole has been shut down and the cities lost communication with the world. When news finally reached out of the city borders, bodies were being counted and photos of ruined districts were revealed as well as short videos of journalists getting harassed by special forces personnel.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Aug 012015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Netanyahu and Erdoğan

Netanyahu and Erdoğan

Introduction

The rulers of the two most powerful authoritarian regimes in the Middle East are launching major wars to reconfigure the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared war by proxy on Iran, announcing full-scale military mobilization within Israel (July 27 -29) and organizing the biggest political campaign of ultra Zionist Jews in Washington. The purpose of this two-pronged propaganda blitz is to defeat the recently signed US-Iranian agreement and start another major Middle East war. Ultimately, Netanyahu intends to take care of his ‘Palestinian Problem’ for good: complete the conquest and occupation of Palestine and expelling the Palestinian people from their homeland – the single most important foreign policy and domestic goal of the Jewish state. In order to do this, Israeli leaders have had to systematically campaign for the destruction of the Palestinians regional supporters and sympathizers – Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

Erdoğan’s Multiple Wars

At the same time, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan has launched a major war against the Kurdish people and their aspirations for a Kurdish state. This has followed closely on several recent incidents beginning with the bombing (with cooperation from Turkish intelligence ) of a Kurdish youth camp, killing and wounding scores of young secular activists. Within days of the massacre of Turkish-Kurdish youth, Erdoğan ordered his air force to bomb and strafe Kurdish bases within the sovereign territories of Iraq and Syria and Turkish security police have assaulted and arrested thousands of Kurdish nationalists and Turkish leftist sympathizers throughout the country. This has all occurred with the support of the US and NATO who provide cover for Erdoğan’s plans to seize Syrian territory, displace Kurdish civilians and fighters and colonize the northern border of Syria – under the pretext of needing a ‘buffer zone’ to protect Turkish sovereignty. Such a massive land grab of hundreds of square kilometers will end the long standing support and interaction among Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurdish populations who have been among the most effective opponents of radical Islamist groups.

Erdoğan’s newly declared war on the Kurds has complex domestic and regional components (Financial Times 7/28/15, p 9): Within Turkey, the repression is directed against the emerging electoral-political power of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party. Erdoğan plans to discredit or outright ban this political party, which had won a surprising number of seats in the recent parliamentary election, call for new elections, secure a ‘majority’ in Parliament and assume dictatorial ‘executive powers’.

Regionally, Erdoğan’s invasion of Syria is part of his strategy to expand Turkey’s borders southward and westward and to provide a platform from which Turkey’s favorite jihadi clients can launch assaults on the secular government in Damascus and Aleppo. The bombing of Kurdish villages and camps in Iraq and Syria are designed to reverse the Kurd’s military victories against ISIS and will justify greater repression of Kurdish activists backing autonomy in southeastern Turkey.

Erdoğan is counting on Turkey’s agreements with the US and NATO for overt and covert collaboration against the Kurds and against Syrian national sovereignty.

Netanyahu’s Proxy Wars

Netanyahu’s multifaceted political offensive is designed to drag the US into a war with Iran. His strategy operates at many levels and in complex complimentary ways. The immediate target is the nuclear agreement recently signed between the White House and Iran. Part of longer-term strategy to destroy Iran includes the formation of a coalition of Middle East states, especially Gulf monarchies, to encircle, confront and provoke war with Iran. This political-military strategy is being pushed by leading Zionists within the highest circles of the US Government.

All the major Israeli political parties, and most Israeli voters support this dangerous policy against Iran. The Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations in the US have been mobilized to bully, bribe and bludgeon the majority of Congress into following Netanyahu’s dictates. Every US Congressperson is being ‘visited’ and presented with propaganda sheets by leaders, activists and full time functionaries of AIPAC, the Jewish Confederations and their billionaire political donors. All the major US press and TV media parrot Netanyahu’s call for ‘war on the peace accord’ despite massive US public opinion against any escalation of the conflict.

At the highest levels of US Executive decision-making top Zionist officials avoid association with AIPAC’s public polemics and thuggish bluster, all the while promoting their own political-military ‘final solution’ … for eliminating Iran as an adversary to Israeli-Jewish supremacy in the Middle East. In the State Department and Departments of Commerce, Defense and Treasury, US-Israeli agents acting as special Middle East advisers, ambassadors and insiders push Netanyahu’s policies to undermine any normalization of relations between the US and Iran.

A recent proposal written by Professor Phillip Zelikow in the Financial Times (7/23/15, p. 9 ) entitled “To Balance (sic) the Nuclear Deal, Defeat ISIS and Confront Iran” is chilling.

The former ‘Executive Director of the ‘9/11 Commission Investigation Report’, uber-insider Zelikow promotes the formation of an ingenious coalition, in the name of fighting ISIS, but whose real purpose is to “confront Iranian ambitions”. Zelikow’s “coalition” includes Turkey, which will be assigned to attack Iran’s regional allies in Syria and Lebanon (Hezbollah) – all in the name of “fighting ISIS”.

The bland, bespectacled and most respectable Professor Zelikow lays out Netanyahu’s own bloody hit list down to the most minute detail – but tidied up with a thin veneer of ‘confronting ISIS’ to obscure his real agenda. This is no blustering AIPAC thug or open Neo-Con war monger beating the drums…

Zelikow’s ‘anti-ISIS coalition’ will ultimately go after the Iraqi Shia militia and their main supporters among Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – hewing closely to Netanyahu’s strategy!

Zelikow was a major inside advocate of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Twelve years after the US invaded, occupied and destroyed Iraq, Zelikow pops up again to promote a policy of sending US combat troops to serve Israel’s regional interest. He writes, “The military side [of the ‘coalition’] will need more Americans on the ground to offer meaningful combat support among the coalition”. (FT ibid).

Zelikow is clearly aware of US public opinion in favor of diplomacy with Iran and against the US engaging in more ground wars in the Middle East, when he writes that a ‘military effort is not an alternative to diplomacy.” Zelikow and his bosses in the Israeli Foreign Office know any US military intervention with such a “coalition” would lead to the destruction of the US-Iran Agreement and another major ground war with US troops fighting for Israel once again!

Considering his position as a highly connected insider, Zelikow’s attempts to sabotage the Iran-US agreement presents a far greater danger to world peace than all the noisy lobbying by the 52 Zionist organizations active in Congress.

Zelikow has been a highly influential security adviser to the US Executive and State Department since the early 1980’s under Reagan. He was appointed ‘special adviser to the State Department’ in 2007, a position held earlier by Neo-Con operative Wendy Sherman and followed by war-monger, Victoria Nuland. In 2011 President Obama appointed him to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

He came to national prominence when President Bush appointed him Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission where he directed the highly controversial (and highly censored) 9/11 Commission Report against much public opposition. The appointment was made after Bush first choice of Henry Kissinger had created a media storm – Kissinger was never a serious choice with an insider-gatekeeper like Zelikow waiting in the wings. He was a controversial choice because of his role as intimate advisor to Condaleeza Rice and his authorship of the notorious Bush national security strategy promoting pre-emptive war, published in September 2002.

Phillip Zelikow suppressed any discussion of Israel’s role as a major catalyst for US involvements in the Afghan and Iraq wars. As executive-director of the 9/11 Commission Report, Zelikow assumed the role of editor and censor. He ignored the history of Israeli Mossad operations in the US, especially in the run-up to the attack on September 11, 2001. The report made no mention of the fake ‘moving’ van filled with Israeli spies arrested on September 11, 2001 while celebrating and photographing the destruction of the World Trade Center complex. Nor did he discuss the quiet ‘deportation’ of the Israeli agents. The report contains no discussion of the scores of phony Israel “art students” who operated in South Florida around US military installations and in the vicinity of the apartment of the alleged 9-11 hijackers. They too were quietly arrested and deported.

He also suppressed discussion of the Defense Department’s ‘Able Danger Project’, which showed US intelligence awareness of the hijackers presence and activities much earlier dating back to 1997.

In October 2001, the first ‘anthrax attack’ occurred – first sickening and killing a photojournalist at a scandal sheet in Florida. National news programs featured an interview with … the re-packaged ‘al Qaeda’ and ‘bioterrorism’ expert Professor Zelikow (his lack of Arabic and scientific credentials notwithstanding …) who declared the anthrax to be ‘weapons grade’ and ‘definitely from a state sponsored military lab’, implying Iraq. (He was correct in the ‘military lab’ part of his declaration – only the facility was the US Weapons Lab at Fort Detrick. Zelikow’s role in accusing the embargoed and beleaguered regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of the anthrax hysteria was crucial in the public build-up for the case to invade Iraq, echoed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s call for the destruction of Iraq. Master-performance complete, ‘scientist’ Zelikow’s interview (among others) has disappeared from the ‘web’.

Zelikow’s ‘expertise’ (such as it is) and usefulness to Israel derives from his articles on the political usefulness of ‘false flags’ and catastrophes – events concocted or instigated by imperialist powers to push a traumatized public into unpopular wars and draconian domestic police state policies. His work has centered on the manipulation and exploitation of ‘events’ to push public policy – and include the Cuban Missile Crisis, the re-unification of Germany, policing Northern Ireland, (but not Middle East studies or bio-weaponry’). His expertise is in the historical use of the ‘public myth’- whether the Riechstag Fire or Pearl Harbor. In Foreign Affairs, November-December 1998, he co-authored an article with the current US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, entitled Catastrophe Terrorism where a ‘watershed event’ could result in ‘horror and chaos’ pushing the US public to accept the destruction of ‘their civil liberties, wide-spread surveillance, detention and use of deadly force …

Zelikow continues to push the “false flag” script: In 2001 with the “anthrax hysteria” and now with the “Iran threat hysteria” … What is not surprising is that in both instances he hews closely to Israel’s strategic goal of utterly destroying countries, which have opposed Israel’s dispossession, occupation and expulsion of Palestinians – Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon and now Iran.

Zelikow is a long-term, major asset for Israel, working quietly and effectively while the AIPAC bullies break down the doors of Congress. He never held a prominent position in the Cabinet or White House post like the brazen Zion-Cons Wolfowitz, Feith, Libby, Perle, Abrams and Levey who aggressively pushed the country into war with Iraq. Wolfowitz and company have scuttle back into obscurity under the cover of lucrative private positions while Zelikow continues to work inside pushing the Iran war agenda out of the limelight.

Zelikow’s role is far more discrete and important to Israel over the long haul than the loudmouths and thugs of AIPAC and other Zionist fronts. On the surface he pursues his academic and university administrative career (an excellent cover) while repeatedly inserting himself into crucial public discussions and quietly assuming strategic positions to advise on events or policies which have ‘turning point’ consequences and where his deep ties to Israel are never discussed.

Zelikow has one asset, which his bullying and blustering Zionist comrades lack and another which he shares with them. Zelikow is a great con-man – claiming knowledge about anthrax, Middle East relations, and military strategy. He spouts … pure unadulterated rubbish with authoritative finesse! …  Claiming legal and investigative expertise he controlled the 9/11 Commission Report and denied the American people any open and relevant discussion of the event. He even likened the Commission Report skeptics to ‘an infection’ within American public opinion – apparently relying on his ‘expertise’ in biological warfare …

What Zelikow does have in common with the raging bulls of Zionism is his constant resort to vituperation against any country or movement identified as a target by Israel. He consistently refers to the secular government of Syria (under attack by jihadi terrorists) as a “terrorist regime”. He calls the Iraqi militia fighting ISIS “Shia torture squads”. This is part of a build-up to push the US into ground war for Israel against Iran and its allies.

Unlike Turkey’s Erdoğan who uses his own armed forces to launch an all-out war to dispossess, terrorize and colonize ethnic Kurdish territories in Syria, Iraq and Turkey, Israel’s Netanyahu relys on his overseas (US) high level operatives to set in motion the wheels of war. Within days of attacks of September 11, 2001, Israel’s leading mouthpiece in the US Senate, Joseph Lieberman presented the roadmap for US wars for the next decade and a half – declaring that “the US must declare war on Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon and Iran”, despite the complete absence of these countries’ involvement in the event.

Is he a prophet or just a highly successful agent? Zelikow will push for a ‘coalition’ of Middle East dictators and monarchs to fulfill Israel’s dream as dictated by Joseph Lieberman in September 2001. This is a dream of waging devastating war against Iran leading to its partition, similar to the de facto partition of Iraq, Syria and Libya, resulting in a Middle East forever ravaged by  sectarian strife, foreign occupations, balkanized and devoid of any possibility of regaining civilized life. Israel can then carry out its brutal final solution: the dispossession and expulsion of all Palestinians and establishment an expanded, purely Jewish state – surrounded by unspeakable destruction and destitution …

Conclusion

Erdoğan expands ‘Turkoman frontier’ into Syria and Iraq – despite the fact that Turkey has never shown any interest in the Turkoman minorities. To that end, he allies with ISIS terrorists to uproot Kurds, everywhere extending into Turkey. Erdoğan, like, Netanyahu, wants a ‘pure’ ethnic state – one Jewish, the other Turkish! Both brutal leaders have no regard for the sovereignty of neighboring states, let alone the security of their civilian populations. Both depend on the military support of the US. Both are in the process of igniting wider and more destructive wars in the Middle East. Netanyahu and Erdoğan want to reconfigure the Middle East: Turkey seizes Kurdistan and Syria; Netanyahu expands military dominance in the Persian Gulf through the destruction of Iran.

These two leaders appear to hate each other because they are so similar in arrogance and action …  But according to Professor Zelikow, the US will step in ‘god-like’ to ‘mediate’ the different power grabs among what he mindlessly refers to as the ‘partners of the coalition’

Jul 252015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, 99GetSmart

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

The deadly suicide bombing on July 20th in Suruç, Turkey which left 32 young activists dead and dozens of others severely wounded has shaken the country. The moment of the explosion was captured on camera, and in the aftermath forensics investigation began. The bomber’s identity has now been confirmed to be a 20-year-old Mechanical Engineering student at Adıyaman University, Seyh Abdurrahman Alagoz, who had disappeared with his brother Yunus Emre Alagoz in 2014.

The two brothers had been on the “wanted list” with high suspicion of terrorist activities since their father had filed a complaint in November 2014. The two brothers allegedly left their home town of Adıyaman for Gaziantep and later for Kilis, from where they set out for a training camp in Syria. After the training camp in Syria, they illegally re-entered Turkey and visited their home without getting caught twice. It has also been figured out that the brothers went to Syria at the same time as Orhan Gonder, who had carried out a bombing attack in Diyarbakır two days before the 2015 general elections at an HDP rally.

Video of the initial explosion:

23 Suicide Bombers on Wanted Lists

A total of 18 families in Adıyaman have filed complaints and reported that their children have joined ISIS. A total of 23 names remain on the “wanted for possible terrorist activities” list of the Turkish police.

The suicide bomber Abdurrahman Alagoz is also reported to have been detained by the police earlier and then released, even though his name appeared on the Wanted list. An HDP member of parliament for the city of Kars stated that there are several local sources confirming this detention and possible camera footage and there will be an investigation. The Diyarbakır bomber had also been detained and released by the police prior to the bloody attacks.

In another note, the city of Adıyaman appears to be known for infamous bombers. The city of 250,000 inhabitants comprises Turkish, Kurdish, Sunni and Alevi people, with a high level of conservative lifestyles. In the most recent elections Adıyaman’s five representatives were divided into long-time governing Islamist AKP (4) members and members of the pro-Kurdish Socialist party HDP (1). The multiethnic and multi-religious city has mostly been peaceful until the “tagging” of Alevi Housesin recent years.

Islam Tea House: Frequent Address of Bombers

In the city of Adıyaman the Alagoz brothers had opened a tea house named “Islam” which was frequently visited by both Diyarbakır and Suruç bombers. According to the Daily Cumhuriyet, the tea house later was closed down after three months of operation by the municipality and police for lack of official papers, and now the building is being used as an advertising agency. Witnesses say that usually around 50 people would visit the tea house and police would surveil the vicinity 24/7.

When the tea house was first opened, local shop owners filed complaints out of suspicion and the tea house was raided, upon which the owners protested saying “We live in a Muslim majority country; is it illegal to grow beard?”

Neighboring shop owners also stated that during the deadly October 6-7 clashes, the tea house stayed closed for several days and it has been reported that the people hanging out there would say they were going to Kobane to join ISIS forces. They have been saying that mostly young people in their twenties would visit the tea house and families of the disappeared children would come to seek clues to there sons’ whereabouts.

The Adıyaman chairperson of the main opposition party CHP stated that they will file a report on the disappeared children and ISIS recruitments in the city. A CHP representative states that there are rumors of 300 people joining ISIS from the city of Adıyaman.

Photo: DÖDEF – Demokratik Öğrenci Dernekleri Federasyonu

Photo: DÖDEF – Demokratik Öğrenci Dernekleri Federasyonu

 

Photo: DÖDEF – Demokratik Öğrenci Dernekleri Federasyonu

Photo: DÖDEF – Demokratik Öğrenci Dernekleri Federasyonu

 

Photo: DÖDEF – Demokratik Öğrenci Dernekleri Federasyonu

Photo: DÖDEF – Demokratik Öğrenci Dernekleri Federasyonu

 

Photo: DÖDEF – Demokratik Öğrenci Dernekleri Federasyonu

Photo: DÖDEF – Demokratik Öğrenci Dernekleri Federasyonu

 

Jul 082015
 

By Gökçe Sandal, 99GetSmart

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Istanbul’s LGBTI parade during ‘Pride Week 2015’ had earlier been declared unlawful by the Istanbul Governor, the reason being that Pride and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan coincided with each other. The Governor’s declaration outlawing Pride, combined with excessive police violence against the Pride-goers, added more flames to the already homophobic assessment of the mainstream pro-government media and resulted in boosting of prejudices and homophobia even further in the society.

The reason for the sudden ban was stated to be the parade’s coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan. This statement declares a division between the faithful, moral Muslims, and the members and/or supporters of the LGBTI groups, and defines the two camps as two naturally conflicting identities that cannot coexist. Therefore the statement strengthens the preconceived idea of these two identities as two distinct groups and leads to increased tensions between the two groups. The religious reasoning behind the ban has brought about discussions about the “people of Loot”, a tribe that in Islamic belief was wiped out by Allah due to their practice of homosexuality.

Only a week after the events that took place in Istanbul – the police intervention into Pride –, the Ankara-based ‘Young Islamic Defense’ group hung posters all over the capital, with the following Hadith passage: “Whoever you find doing the deed of the people of Loot, kill them.” This open call for massacre and hate crime is directly targeting the members of the LGBTI groups in Turkey, as the poster has a photo from the previous week’s parade in its background.

The group has also posted a manifestation on their website which declares the LGBTI members to be remnants of the Loot tribe that need to be destroyed, thus encouraging various kinds of hate crimes by justifying them on the grounds of religion.

Even though homosexuality is not conceived of as a crime in Turkey, it is not recognized, or even referred to, in the laws. In addition, general public awareness of and tolerance towards the LGBTI movement in Turkey is not very high. The state’s own interruption of the movement legitimizes these negative views held by the public and provides a freer environment for hate speech, while making LGBTI people all the more vulnerable to actions that may result from this atmosphere charged with hate and intolerance.

Mar 172015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Turkey’s parliament has been rocked by the infamous national security bill over the past few weeks. The government has tried all methods to pass the bills, disregarding the constitution and international agreements Turkey is a signatory to. The new bill has been especially criticized for the legal impunity it supplies to the police and its declaring any citizen to be a potential criminal. A second bill has now been brought to the parliament floor, regarding prison guards.

The new prison bill’s 19 articles have already been passed without much debate or anyone really noticing. Since most members of the parliament are busy preparing for the election period, very few members take the time to study and evaluate the new bill. According to the new prison guards bill, guards will be allowed to use trained dogs, teargas (though it is prohibited from indoor use), pressurized water, and firearms against prisoners “if need be.”

The new bill is considered a declaration of war against prisoners and lawyers have expressed their concerns, recalling the massive deaths in prisons due to security operations that targeted prisons prior to AKP’s rule. The draconian bill on the parliament floor has implications that disregard the right to life and many other rights, especially combined with the isolation system in individual cells used in Turkish prisons, the scope of the bill can be considered very worrisome.

The official reason on the draft page states that the bill was written to “improve individuals who have shown social inadaptability.” The bill foresees the use of firearms, teargas, pressurized water, and trained dogs to assault prisoners in cases of revolt, resistance, escape, attempted escape or disturbances. One article in the bill also contains a special clause which will enable guards to use maximum measures in case of passive resistance from prisoners, and a warning message is not necessary for application of these measures.

When to use weapons in prisons?

Guards and “other security personnel” will be allowed to shoot prisoners if there is a tendency not to submit items which might be of use in case of resistance. Security forces will be allowed to use serial-shooting if there is attempt at assault on security forces. According to the bill, security forces may shoot a prisoner if he were to resist strip search or torture, or if the prisoner starts a hunger strike. One other clause concerns the surveillance cameras installed in prison cells. Prisoners break the cameras, which leave no “dark” spots, since they violate prisoners’ privacy. According to the new bill, guards will be allowed to use firearms if a prisoner breaks the camera in his cell.

Other measures in the bill vary from pressurized water, trained dogs to assault prisoners, and “powders” which remind one of chemical weapons. Not only does this bill allow security personnel to use several types of arms against unarmed prisoners, but also contains measures to guarantee impunity. The identities of armed-forces personnel who participate in such “interventions” against prisoners will be kept secret under the bill.

Remembering “Operation Return to Life” from 2000

The bill reminds one of an infamous operation in Turkish prisons in the year 2000, when 20 prisons were raided by armed forces, dozens were killed instantly, dozens of others were raped, and hundreds were left mortally wounded by chemical weapons. One victim of chemical powders described the feeling she experienced during the operation, saying “there was no fire, but we felt the flames under our skin.” Lawyers now refer to this as one of the darkest pages in the history of Turkish prisons and warn of the dangers and risks of having a bill that will allow even harsher treatment of prisoners.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Feb 192015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Nuh Köklü

Nuh Köklü

Journalist Nuh Koklu had been having a snow fight with his friends on the evening of February 18 in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district. The area is known for its relaxed atmosphere and peaceful neighborhood—except for the police’s violent attacks on peaceful protests. During the snow fight, according to the Turkish media, a snowball hit a shop window, angering the shopkeeper.

The shopkeeper, furious over the snowball, went out to attack the youngsters playing in the street. When he was outnumbered and pushed back, he went inside the shop, grabbed a knife and went running after the young people. A member of the group fell to the ground, the shopkeeper attacked, and Nuh went in to protect his friend. The shopkeeper stabbed Nuh Koklu in the heart repeatedly.

The shop of the killer shopowner has been marked “Murderer” by some friends of the journalist

The shop of the killer shopowner has been marked “Murderer” by some friends of the journalist

Nuh was taken to a hospital nearby, but he had died. The shopkeeper was also taken to a hospital.

Did President Erdoğan’s Rhetoric Have an Effect?

The incident took place not long after Turkish President Erdoğan’s notorious comments regarding the legality of violence applied by shopkeepers. At a speech he gave at the union of shopowners, Erdoğan had said “shopowners of this country are protectors of honor, peace and stability on streets; they are the soldiers, guardians, and police of the streets; when the moment comes they suppress coup attempts.”

Ali İsmail Korkmaz

Ali İsmail Korkmaz

Erdoğan’s speech came not long after the trial of the murderers of Ali İsmail Korkmaz, who was beaten to death by police and shopkeepers during Occupy Gezi protests. Rhetoric adopted by government members seems to have a much greater impact on society when it comes to justification of violence and the

legitimacy of monopoly over violence. Nuh Koklu had been a union member and a leading figure in strikes. Although he had been an unemployed journalist lately—like thousands of others—, he has been keeping his audience informed as an independent reporter. The last ever tweet he shared read “Paranoid governments’ biggest fear is a people united; it is time of a univocal reaction to all kinds of troubles now.”

Nuh Köklü during a strike

Nuh Köklü during a strike

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Jan 152015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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In Turkey, media response to Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris has had two sides, as in many other places. The polarization has been between those that celebrated the attack and those that stood in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo’s press freedom and supported it. In order to stand in solidarity with the French satirical paper, the Turkish satirical magazines Leman, Penguen and Uykusuz have agreed to come out with the same cover page for this week’s issue. Like many cartoonists all around the world, Turkish cartoonists also mourned over the violent massacre. Yet Charlie Hebdo once again came up with the unexpected and drew a cover page that showed Mohammed crying and holding a banner that reads “Je Suis Charlie.”

The French newspaper Libération had offered refuge for the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, and the new issue’s announcement came in their offices too. On the other hand in Turkey, the prominent newspaper Cumhuriyet Daily has been announced to be one of the two newspapers that are allowed to reprint parts of Charlie Hebdo’s latest issue. According to Libération’s news piece, Cumhuriyet Daily from Turkey and Italy’s Il Fatto Quotidiano will be printing parts of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo. Later on the French magazine will be available digitally in four languages, in French, English, Spanish and Arabic.

Turkey’s most popular satirical magazines: Leman, Penguen, Uykusuz

The announcement that Cumhuriyet would reprint parts of the magazine has caused an uproar among some extra-sensitive Islamists in Turkey. While over the past week some pro-government media have been declaring even mentioning of the Mohammed cartoons as blasphemy and an insult to religion, now thousands of people in Turkey have turned to Cumhuriyet as the local target. The newspaper’s headquarters have received countless threats through the night, including serious death threats.

A few hours after the threats starting flowing into Cumhuriyet’s inbox, the mayor of Ankara tweeted his message that this is a plot to make Muslims appear violent. He accused Cumhuriyet of participating in an international plot to provoke devout Muslims to raid the newspaper’s headquarters and play the victim. He also invited all his Twitter followers to take Cumhuriyet to court for blasphemy, which is punishable by imprisonment in Turkey. However the police did not allow the “crime” to be committed and raided the Cumhuriyet Daily’s printing house, to make sure no caricatures of Mohammed are printed. Open censorship has been an issue in Turkey with regard to books, but no raid of a newspaper printing house has taken place for some time.

On the other hand, the daily’s Twitter account announced that the newspaper will reprint parts of Charlie Hebdo’s latest issue in four pages to show their solidarity and support for free speech and press freedom, and that in so doing they have had regard for the sensitivity of the religious citizens of the country. In fact it is largely ignored that the Quran itself does not prohibit representations of the Islamic prophet, but rather the worship of idols.

However, the digital lynching campaign seems to continue as this piece is being written, and the threats might in fact turn into reality. Currently Cumhuriyet holds an unfortunate world record for the number of journalists (eight) that have fallen victim to assassinations and bombings. The last time the newspaper’s headquarters were subjected to a bombing was in 2006, but no one was hurt. However the hate speech and targeting by Islamist media has so far proven to be heavily destructive. The Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink’s case is still referred to as an example. The journalist had been targeted by certain media, which sparked a nationalist reaction and led to his being shot in the back in front of his newspaper on January 19, 2007. Now, the same media’s targeting Cumhuriyet and the satirical magazines reminds one of those unfortunate past events and is perceived as worrisome.

Cumhuriyet Daily’s cartoon problems have appeared previously as well. One of the cartoonists of the newspaper, Musa Kart, once drew then Prime Minister Erdoğan as a cat and was sued for it, which led to a wave of drawing Erdoğan as an animal in the satirical magazines. The famous cartoonist is also on trial and risks a nine-year prison sentence for his drawings in the newspaper. “If I must go to prison for exercising the duties of free press,” he has said, “then so be it. Today caricaturists are sitting on the bench awaiting trial in Turkey, but this proves that justice only comes in the form of a comic drawing here.”

In recent weeks, there has been an uproar in the pro-government media in Turkey with regard to cartoonists, and several columnists have targeted comic relief and portrayed satire as a dangerous weapon.

According to international observers, Turkey has a very low rating for press freedom and is listed as “Not Free” in the Freedom House rankings on journalism. According to PEN Norway’s report on free speech in Turkey, there are still dozens of journalists in prison and dozens more on trial. As Cumhuriyet’s new issue with Charlie Hebdo content will appear at kiosks on Wednesday morning, we will see how the statistics change now; yet it seems as if immediate protection of the newspaper’s headquarters is a necessity. After the violent threats, one can not help but wonder if the imams in Turkey would stand in solidarity and show support for press freedom as did the German-Turk imams in Germany after the attacks in Paris. During the past week millions of people have declared themselves to be Charlie in solidarity. But on Wednesday, it’s “Je Suis Cumhuriyet.”

 

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

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Dec 142014
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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With the constitution written during military rule in Turkey in 1982, the president of the republic – then a top general – was awarded the power to issue Presidential Decrees to manage duties such as secretarial institutionalization, organization, governance, working principles, and appointment of officers. Erdoğan, the first popularly elected president of Turkey, has now used this power to change aspects of the institution of the presidency itself by presidential decree.

In previous years, when Erdoğan was prime minister, the Turkish electorate became accustomed to the term “law decree,” which does not require parliamentary debate or even a vote, but can be declared simply by approval of the cabinet. A presidential decree, on the other hand, does not even require the approval of cabinet ministers; moreover it is out of the reach of judicial controls, which makes the decree unchallengeable. Having been created with an unchallengeable presidential decree, the new cabinet has strong chances of being “above the law” with its untouchable qualities, bypassing the constitutional and judicial checks on lawfulness.

Erdoğan’s Shadow Cabinet

The decree that establishes a shadow cabinet is declared through a secret order, which means the official papers do not refer to it. The current organization of the presidency puts four bodies under the president’s responsibilities: financial and economic affairs, institutional communications, information technologies, and human resources. These directorates answer directly to the President and will take guidance from his office.

With the new decree, the number of these institutions has been increased to 13, including such directorates as:

National Security Directorate

Foreign Affairs Directorate

Economy Directorate

Defense Directorate

Energy Directorate

Social Affairs Directorate

Investment Tracking Directorate

Communications Central Directorate

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

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Dec 112014
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

POMA_Bulldozer_Hijacked_by_Carsi_at_Gezi_protests

Gezi Park was raided by the police and most people were losing hope when the ultra group Çarşı started a call for solidarity and asked for 100 gas masks to take back the park. Raising hopes in doing so, the ultras have emerged to win people’s hearts by helping take back the park and be at the forefront of the OccupyGezi Resistance. In the aftermath of taking the park, Çarşı activists had hijacked an excavator and chased the police’s water cannons, the TOMAs, with it. Çarşı was originally founded in 1980s as a reaction to the military dictatorship that was then ruling Turkey. They are supporters of the Beşiktaş soccer club, who have been carrying out social responsibility actions and standing against many injustices over the decades.

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As a prosecutor accepted the action accusing Çarşı of plotting a coup d’état against the government by joining the OccupyGezi Movement, leaders and main figures of the ultras were detained and taken to court. On December 14th, Çarşı groups across Europe will be gathering in Cologne to protest against this unlawful trial their fellow ultras are facing in Turkey. Çarşı Berlin announced that there will be a protest rally to call for justice for the Çarşı supporters.

Çarşı Duisburg will officially organize the protest and they have published this release to call for support and solidarity:

“This supporters’ group in Turkey is being accused of a coup d’état. If the court proceeds, the ultras will receive life sentences. We the people who have loved Çarşı would like to draw attention to the absurdity that the government in Turkey is forcing on any opposition, and we want to show that we stand with our friends. We denounce the lawsuit opened against our friends and we find the accusation of a coup absurd. Such a charge is comical and funny to the point of frivolity. Beşiktaş is the people’s team, and of course will deal with people’s problems. The scarves thrown for the children who were left homeless after the Van earthquake in 2011, the campaigns to donate blood for leukemia patients, the shelters we have built for stray animals on the streets, the funds and aid we have collected as relief for the children in rural areas… if all these were a coup d’état, then we are all guilty of this coup.”

On December 14, Çarşı supporters from various European cities will be at Hans-Böckler-Platz/BF West Sq., Cologne.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

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Dec 052014
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

caferağa-2

In the aftermath of the #OccupyGezi protests, a group had occupied an unused space and turned it into a Community House in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district. Officially, it is the second place that has been occupied in Turkey, right after Gezi Park itself. For some time, the house had been targeted by the authorities and faced eviction. One more notification has just arrived to the squat house recently and informs of eviction to begin at 10 a.m. on December 5th, on Friday.

The occupiers have issued a public statement calling for solidarity and support from all friends, inviting them for a defense of the house at 9 a.m.

The statement follows:

“We, who revolted to prevent concretion of our lives one and a half years ago, are people who do not look alike but suffer from the same grievances.

There is a house in our neighborhood whose door is open to anyone. A publicly owned abandoned place that we brought into use, a place where everyone can pull up a chair and catch their breath, join in a deep conversation while having some tea, a place that belongs to all of us. This house was brought into being by the contribution and labor of thousands of people up until now, as a place where everyone can cook and eat together, that has a library, darkroom, carpenter’s shop, swap market, as a place for everyone who is willing to talk, discuss and produce.

We are the residents who embrace the ones who go down under alive and come out dead, whose heads with gas canisters, whose infant bodies with bullets, whose dark bodies with bombs smashed into pieces, as our own neighbors. We are your neighbors, who long for soil among piles of concrete and thus create gardens, who protect disaster assembly areas for the coming earthquake from concretion, who discuss their desires regarding our neighborhood, who take it to the streets wearing bathrobes, stinking of lack of water during shortages or who keep watch in our parks and streets against any quarrel.

We heard that they will come to shut our doors down. Those tyrants who have taken an oath to sell everything that is beautiful and everything that lives; every drop of water, every tree and every shadow, they will attempt to wreck our house on us. We invite everyone whose hearts beat with ours to our Community Center/Squat to defend our common space that we are in existence all together, shoulder to shoulder on Friday, the 5th of December, at 9 a.m.

This house belongs to all of us, let us defend it together.

CAFERAGA SOLIDARITY

Meeting:

Date: 5th of December, Friday, 9 a.m.

Address: Hacı Şükrü sok. No. 24

Caferağa Mahallesi, Kadıköy”

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