Nov 052015
 

By Michael Nevradakis, Truthout.org

Truthout.org / Interview:

Gürkan Ozturan

Gürkan Ozturan

Turkey is experiencing increasingly tumultuous times. A string of terrorist bombings have targeted rallies organized by left-wing and peace groups throughout the country. These violent incidents have been followed by crackdowns by the Erdogan government. At the same time, Turkey finds itself embroiled in the ongoing war in Syria and in an ongoing conflict with its sizable Kurdish minority, while an unprecedented wave of refugees from Syria has been traveling through Turkey towards Greece and other European Union member-states.

Gürkan Ozturan is a journalist, blogger, academic and activist who was a key participant in the Gezi Park protests in 2013, and who has often been outspoken in his criticisms towards the Turkish government. In this interview, he speaks about the recent bombings in Ankara and other Turkish cities, the government crackdown which has followed, the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and the conflicts in Syria and against the Kurds and the refugee crisis which has followed.

Michael Nevradakis: Let’s begin with the recent deadly bombing incident at a peace rally in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. What was the nature of the rally that was being held, what was the reaction of the authorities to the bombing, and who do you believe was actually behind this bombing?

Gürkan Ozturan: This bombing reminds me of many other bombings that have taken place before election periods in Turkey in the past few decades. There has always been political violence, but never at this level. Five years ago, I was about to take a bus, the bus exploded right in front of me, and that was during a pre-election period again. Just four or five months ago, in Diyarbakir, there had been another explosion at a HDP [The People’s Democratic Party, the left-wing party in the Turkish parliament] rally. The left parties in Turkey have been seen as a threat to the state, and for some reason, they always get subjected to violent attacks.

On the one hand, I want to become a more realistic person and say that I’m not very surprised that this attack took place, because I personally expect anything from this government, that they would hang on to power with all they have. They would not shy away from any kind of tactics or methods that include hurting people. So on the one hand, I was expecting it, on the other hand I was being so naive as to hoping that they would never do such a thing. I believe that the government somehow is linked with this. We have seen the reactions of the ministers and the state officials in the aftermath of the attacks. The first reaction was to blame the HDP. They declared that the HDP were self-bombing, which doesn’t sound very realistic, given that the explosion took place at the heart of the state. All the major state offices are just in a few kilometers’ distance to the explosion site, and it is a major square in the capital city. How can the opposition just carry bombs and kill over 100 people? It’s like a self-harm.

Another significant aspect of this attack is that the reaction of the police in the aftermath of the attacks. In three cases, in Diyarbakir and Suruç, and [recently] in Ankara, the police, in the aftermath of the attacks, actually started shooting rubber bullets and using water cannons against the survivors. This gives you a bit of an idea who might be behind the attacks, and this does not very look very hopeful, of course. Unfortunately people are getting killed, and I consider this as a part of political violence, and I guess all the fingers are pointing towards the government.

After the Ankara bombings, Selahattin Demirtaş, the chairman of the HDP, gave a very powerful speech, pointing fingers at the governmental authorities for the bombings and the attacks that took place. What did he say, and how did this speech resonate with the public?

He just spoke sincerely for ten minutes, he just spoke his heart. And in those ten minutes, he just gave his impression of what has happened, that the party and the Turkish youth have been targeted, and he was saying that this is not the first time that it’s happening, but every time they are being shown as those being responsible for the attacks. Even though the government is obviously controlling everything, they are trying to shy away from responsibility. He was stating that if he was in charge, if he was a part of the government and such a thing had happened, he would resign immediately and do the responsible thing. But in the Turkish political culture there is no resignation culture, unfortunately.

The government ministers, evaluating the situation, have been claiming that there is no security problem and that the state has full control of the situation, and Demirtaş has been asking, “If the state has full control of the situation, how can two bombs explode in the same square? And, if the state is unable to control the situation, why are you still not resigning?” He was asking this, and of course, these questions are echoed among the society, but when it comes to the media, the majority of the media is under government control and his words are actually getting subverted when being brought to the agenda. The pro-government media is using his earlier images – more joyful looking images – to represent his outlook on what has happened, and they distort his messages. So, the spread of propaganda is going on regarding the incidents.

Before the previous national elections [in June 2015], there was an explosion at another HDP rally in Diyarbakir. Back then, again, it was declared that the Islamic State – ISIS – had been responsible for the attack, but there was a very significant moment. When the attack took place, and when there was an explosion, the policemen started laughing and attacking the civilians with rubber bullets and water cannons. Since then, peace rallies, antiwar rallies have been arranged, also in relation to the Syrian situation, by people who did not want a war with Syria, people who did not want bombs to explode in the public squares in Turkey. They came out to the streets and they shouted with one voice. They have set a very simple agenda: that they want peace whatever the costs might be. And then, there has been another explosion.

If you remember the Kobani resistance, the activists from all around Turkey were set to go to Kobani and bring toys to the children. Unfortunately, their meeting in Suruç was subjected to a bombing, and at least 35 of our friends died. Again, right after the explosion, the police were standing right across the street from them and laughing at the suffering. And after that, the political violence has actually been escalating, in the sense that the state has been putting more and more pressure, seeing the HDP and the opposition crowds as a valid threat to the government’s sustainability. This has led to even more violence and the pumping of the far-right ideology that at some point has turned into a political mob on the streets. [There have been] violent mobs across the country, and dozens of people have been killed, and in hundreds of locations the far-right groups had been bussed in and had been marching on the streets, putting up flags and attacking people. This has been escalating, when there were more people at the peace rallies. So the more people joining the peace rallies, the more people would be brought towards the mobs that are becoming violent on the streets.

Unfortunately, I was hoping that this would never happen, but on the other hand, I was almost expecting that the government would indulge in such a thing, knowing how much they’re trying to put the blame on some other groups. It’s obvious that there is a security problem in Turkey, or, there is a problem of approach to human rights by the government of Turkey.

Following the attacks, the government in Turkey enforced a blackout on coverage of the bombings in the media and also online, through the social media. What is the Erdogan government’s typical stance towards the media?

Social media as a whole has been seen as a “menace to society,” as our dear president Erdogan has put it years ago. He has always been targeting social media because it is uncontrollable. And the media, at the hands of the government, is almost solidly submissive to the government control. Only a very few media corporations can actually write something that is out of the government’s scope. But even then, they are subjected to huge tax fines and they get subjected to violence, they get subjected to threats, and all kinds of other pressure. We have a system called “accreditation” which can be seen all around the world, but in Turkey, it is being used for the cause of censorship. Certain media groups are not invited to any event, they are not allowed to write about certain things, and right after the explosions in Ankara, there has been declared a broadcast ban. All kinds of media – including social media – are not allowed to talk about the event. This is the deadliest terror attack in Turkey, no matter where the bombs might have come from, and the government’s response is to declare a broadcast ban.

There is now a meme going around in Turkish social media that there have been six massacres in Turkey and six times there has been a broadcast ban and no one has resigned, and no one has taken responsibility. So in this sense, one can feel that as a citizen of the country, we are dispensable.

There was recently another terrible, shocking video that has been leaked online: a young man being dragged on the streets – a dead body being dragged on the streets. There has been an investigation started on this, there has been declared a broadcast ban on the visuals, and the investigation has been started not because someone has been tortured until death and his dead body was dragged on the streets, but because the videos have been leaked online. So the people who took the video and who leaked it online are being investigated, not the people who have killed and tortured.

You were a participant in the Gezi Park protests and rallies back in 2013. These were rallies that garnered worldwide attention and they were said to have begun in response to plans to replace an urban park in Istanbul with a shopping mall, but it seems that the protests were over much broader issues than just the park. Tell us about what happened back in 2013, what the climate was like at these protests and how the government responded.

In political theory, there is a line that I recall from Joseph Raz, a liberal theoretician. He said if you unnecessarily put pressure on the people, some day will come and they will react to this, they might start reacting regarding the color of the pavement stones even. So that has basically happened. The Turkish public space has been surrounded and put under pressure from all sides and at all levels, and the last point, the last drop came as the cutting down of the trees in Gezi Park.

Until that moment, there had been minor reactions, but the reactions could not get unified for some reason. When the park was to be demolished, only then were people able to unite for one cause, and I think the main reason for this was that it was seen as neutral, it didn’t have any political affiliation. For the first time in Turkish history, the citizens took up their cause and they did not expect someone to lead them.

I see the Gezi Park protests as the uprising of millions of people who decided to take their own fate into their own hands, and unlike the previous times, there were no political leaders to guide people, no one putting words into people’s mouths. Prior to the protests, there had been legislation passed for two months regarding alcohol prohibition, regarding men and women in the same house, regarding unmarried couples living together, regarding who is going to do what and where. There was too much intervention into personal lives, and of course there was to be a reaction to this. Combined with the excessive use of force by the police, it turned into a nuclear event.

Turkey under the Erdogan government has often been portrayed as an economic “success story” and as a regional economic powerhouse, and as a model for the rest of the Middle East region. Does this rhetoric match reality for the ordinary people of Turkey, for their economic freedoms and for their freedom in their everyday lives?

In fact, the Erdogan government has not been completely bad. The first five or six years actually saw economic growth. Due to that economic growth, there is a slightly better competitive market right now. Compared to the ’90s or ’80s or ’70s, the market situation is, of course, more risky, but at the same time it bears more opportunities. I can say that the citizens being able to take up their own rights in their own hands is partly due to Erdogan’s economic and financial policies. Unless the people could feel financially stable for themselves, they wouldn’t be able to dare react to this kind of government.

In order for there to be peaceful progress in the country, there had to be two basic elements: that the personal lives of the people would not be interfered with, and economically there would be progress. However, in the past two years and starting with the protests, there has been more and more pressure on the economy, and because of that, right now it doesn’t seem to have a very bright future. However, thanks to some of the economic advancements in the past 12-13 years, the citizens, to some extent, have been able to expand their circle of influence. But of course, whoever is able to sustain an economic level of guarantee for themselves, whenever they feel secure and safe, they would ask for more rights, and that is basically what has happened in Turkey, and unfortunately the government has failed this test, to listen to the citizens’ demands.

How has Turkey and its military been involved in the war in Syria?

There is not so much information in the [Turkish] media going around about Syria and Russia’s involvement. But the people seem to be making fun of the government’s approach towards Syria. Previously it has been fatal, the involvement of Turkey in Syria, the training of the rebel groups and especially al-Nusra and forces of the Free Syrian Army, jihadist Islamist groups. This has taken a lot of reaction from the citizens, but when Russia’s planes have started going through Turkey to Syria to bomb the rebel grounds, that has caused a sour reaction from Turkey.

The Turkish government has recently been announcing that the economic ties between Turkey and Russia might be hurt. But the losing end in this situation would be Turkey, because Turkey is the one to buy gas and oil from Russia, Turkey is the host country when it comes to Russian tourism and Turkey is also a net benefiter from trade in terms of vegetables and fruits to Russia, and also in terms of clothing and textiles. There has been a huge market between Turkey and Russia, and if there were to be any kind of cooling down of the economic situation, this would not reflect well on the side of Turkey.

How has the Turkish government been reacting towards the Kurdish population and towards the Kurdish struggle for independence?

After the Suruç bombing, it was declared that the Islamic State has taken responsibility, and then, the government declared that it would start bombing the Islamic State grounds and that it would start operations against the Islamic State. But in the past four months, there have been many bombardments, many house raids and thousands of Kurds have been taken into custody. They have been arrested, even though the Kurds have been the victims of attacks. They have been declared responsible, and Turkey has started the “low-frequency” civil war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as they put it, or “low-frequency armed conflict.” However, this is not really low frequency, it is basically declaring curfews in the Kurdish cities, up to eight days for example, and curfews that last for 24 hours in cities where there is no electricity, water or food supplies. This is treating citizens as subjects of siege during the war.

The conflict in Syria and in other Middle Eastern countries has led to a tremendous wave of refugees who are fleeing the region and travelling in many cases towards Europe, and many of these refugees are travelling through Turkey. How do these refugees manage to get through Turkey and into Greece and other countries, and what is being said or being done about the refugee issue in Turkey?

As part of the UN charter on refugees, Turkey has opened borders to Syria. [Turkey has] accepted anyone coming through, but there have been some complications regarding the documentation of the people coming in because, due to international humanitarian crisis, they did not have enough resources to build up the systems, so a lot of people came in to Turkey without any kind of documents to put them in to proper housing.

There are more than 2 million refugees in Turkey, and this population has started rising due to people giving birth. The Turkish capacity to handle the refugee situation is very limited. The Turkish budget obviously cannot handle this – there are very few facilities that the refugees can go to, and even then, there are not so many services. There needs to be schools; there needs to be hospitals for the refugees; there needs to be proper, basic citizen or resident services to be supplied to these people. They have originally entered Turkey through the south-eastern border, but currently, most of them have started going towards the west. Both Greece and Bulgaria have a fence on the Turkish border, so it’s becoming very hard for them to pass the border through there. Thus, many of them can be seen taking boats from the Aegean coast or the Black Sea coast of Turkey, which is very dangerous, especially in this season.

The refugees in Turkey, many of them live in miserable conditions, and I can say that even slavery is re-emerging. There are many places that offer food and shelter to Syrian refugees in return for having their labor, and it is a very worrying situation, but unfortunately I have to say that the European Union (EU) has prevented a more peaceful solution to be brought to this issue, that the EU has been the one to actually raise this situation up to this level by not sharing the burden with Turkey and Greece and Italy. Many countries at the borders of Europe have to suffer with dealing with so many crisis situations, while the other countries can say that they will eventually help by taking a few thousand [refugees]. The Polish government said that 2,000 refugees would endanger the Polish national culture. Well, the Turkish national culture, it’s over 2 million refugees, should already have been devastated.

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission

MICHAEL NEVRADAKIS

Michael Nevradakis is a Ph.D. student in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin and a US Fulbright Scholar presently based in Athens, Greece. Michael is also the host of Dialogos Radio, a weekly radio program featuring interviews and coverage of current events in Greece.

Oct 222015
 

By Michael Nevradakis, 99GetSmart

maxresdefault

Dear listeners and friends,

Gürkan Ozturan

Gürkan Ozturan

Beginning TODAY and all this week on Dialogos Radio, the Dialogos Interview Series will feature a timely and exclusive interview with Turkish journalist, blogger, academic and activist Gürkan Ozturan, who played a key role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey and who, as a result, is a wanted man by the Erdogan government in Turkey. 

Ozturan will speak to Dialogos Radio about all of the latest developments in Turkey and the wider region, including the recent terrorist attaks in Turkey, police and state violence in Turkey against protesters and the left, censorship that is imposed in the Turkish media and on the internet, the 2013 Gezi Park protests, the armed conflict against the Kurds, the ongoing war in Syria and the Middle East and Turkey’s involvement, and the refugee crisis which has resulted.

Along with this interview, we will feature our commentary of the week segment, as well as some great Greek music. All this and much more, this week exclusively on Dialogos Radio.

For more details and our full broadcast schedule, which begins today, visit http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=5662.

Our Interview with Déborah Berman-Santana Featured in Truthout!

Our recent radio interview with Déborah Berman-Santana, retired professor of Geography and Ethnic Studies at Mills College in Oakland, California, on the ongoing economic crisis in Puerto Rico, the island’s long history of colonial subjugation, and the similarities with the situation in Greece, has been featured in Truthout and 99GetSmart! 

Check it out here: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33275-puerto-rico-s-debt-crisis-greece-isn-t-alone-in-struggling-against-austerity.

And here: http://99getsmart.com/puerto-ricos-debt-crisis-greece-isnt-alone-in-struggling-against-austerity/

Best,

Dialogos Radio & Media
 **************************
Αγαπητοί ακροατές και φίλοι,
 
Αυτή την εβδομάδα στην εκπομπή μας, παρουσιάζουμε μία εξαιρετικά επίκαιρη συνέντευξη με τον Τούρκο δημοσιογράφο, μπλόγκερ, ακαδημαϊκό και ακτιβιστή Gürkan Ozturan, ο οποίος ήταν βασικός συντελεστής των διαδηλώσεων του πάρκου Γκεζί το 2013 και που είναι πλέον στοχοποιημένος από την κυβέρνηση Ερντογάν για τον ρόλο του στις διαδηλώσεις. 
 
Ο Ozturan θα μας μιλήσει για όλες τις τελευταίες εξελίξεις στην γείτονα χώρα και για σημαντικά ζητήματα όπως τις πρόσφατες τρομοκρατικές επιθέσεις, την κρατική και αστυνομική καταστολή στην Τουρκία, την λογοκρισία που επιβάλλεται στα Τουρκικά μέσα ενημέρωσης και στο διαδίκτυο, τις διαδηλώσεις στην πλατεία Τακσίμ και στο πάρκο Γκεζί το 2013, τον πόλεμο κατά των Κούρδων και τον πόλεμο στη Συρία, και για την προσφυγική κρίση.
 
Μαζί με αυτή την ενδιαφέρουσα συνέντευξη, θα παρουσιάσουμε τον καθιερωμένο μας εβδομαδιαίο σχολιασμό της επικαιρότητας. Όλα αυτά και πολλά άλλα, αυτή την εβδομάδα αποκλειστικά στο «Διάλογος».
 
Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες και το πλήρης πρόγραμμα μεταδόσεων της εκπομπής μας, μπείτε στο http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=5659.
 
Φιλικά,
Διάλογος Radio & Media
Oct 122015
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

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From The Bogman’s Cannon:

Friends,

On Saturday 10th of October, a peace rally in Ankara Turkey was bombed. The explosions killed many protestors and injured many more. As I write the death toll is reported as being 120 and this is likely to rise given the large number of people who have also been injured and traumatized. It was a sad irony to see bodies draped in banners of the peace rally.

The Turkish Government are blaming IS. The people, in mass rallies in Istanbul, are accusing the Government of undertaking the attack against the people. The police have attacked the survivors with water-cannons and rubber bullets.

Over the past two days, the Turkish people are protesting by refusing to open shops, go to school and to co-operate as a resistance to this atrocity.

As a guerilla poetry action, we encourage people to print off this poem AdA/ Island and leave it in public spaces, and to distribute on social media the following quotation from it:

‘Beauty will save the world;
It will start with loving someone.’

Maria McManus & Gürkan Özturan , translators

AdA /Island 

after Sait Faik Abasiyanik

I have looked at the world from this shore:

salt in my hands; pearls in my palms.
Marmara blue opens ahead;
a longing for freedom
beats in my heart.

Where? Where are all the humans?

   Beauty will save the world; 
                   it will start with loving someone.

Grief comes suddenly
with the rain.
Once again I make a world
with pain.

Is there no one in love in this city?

Beauty will save the world; 
                    it will start with loving someone.

The air, the seagulls, this city of lights,
I am drunk on the smell of kelp.
With no shield I want to embrace
the world, the city, you.

    Beauty will save the world; 
                  it will start with loving someone.

Gurkan’s Blog is here: https://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com/biography/

Maria McManus is a poet and playwright based in Belfast. mariamcmanus.wordpress.com

Sait Faik Abasıyanık (18 November 1906 – 11 May 1954) was one of the greatest Turkish writers of short stories and poetry and considered an important literary figure of the 1940s
Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sait_Faik_Abasıyanık

 

Oct 112015
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas responds to Prime Minister Ahmet Davudoglu in the aftermath of the peace rally bombing in Ankara on Oct 10, 2015. With English subtitles.

 

minister-eroglu-blames-activists-killed-in-bomb-attack-calls-them-provocateurs_10153_720_400

Minister Eroğlu blames activists killed in bomb attack, calls them ‘provocateurs’

In the aftermath of Saturday’s twin bomb blast that killed at least 30 pro-Kurdish and leftwing activists in capital Ankara, Minister of Forestry and Waterworks Veysel Eroğlu scandalously called the activists “provocateurs” and referred to their peace gathering as a “terrorist demonstration.”

“Our people need to be careful of such provocateurs who organize terrorist demonstrations in order to incite discord in social harmony,” said Minister of Forestry and Waterworks Veysel Eroğlu in reaction to Saturday’s attack, “This was a provocation.”

Speaking to reporters from Turkey’s Afyonkarahisar province, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) minister also made reference to the deadly bomb attack that occurred on June 5th, killing four and injuring hundreds in Diyarbakır during the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) pre-election rally.

“If you recall, they had previously organized a similarly provocative rally in Diyarbakır in an effort to portray themselves as victims to the public, in an effort to ultimately pass the electoral threshold,” said Eroğlu. Earning 13.12 percent of the vote in the June 7th general election, the HDP had been able to pass Turkey’s prohibitive 10 percent election threshold and enter parliament for the first time.

The Minister of Forestry and Waterworks also stated “I send my condolences to all who have lost their life… Our police force will do whatever is necessary. The public should refrain from acting on such provocative gatherings.“

Oct 10, 2015 | BGNNews.com | Istanbul

Oct 082015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan99GetSmart

ahmet-hakan

A prominent Turkish anchorman of the critical news network CNNTurk and columnist for critical daily newspaper Hurriyet, Ahmet Hakan has been subjected to a brutal attack by four men recently. The assailants had then quickly been caught and taken to Directorate of Combat with Organized Crime where the investigation was to be carried out and their statements to be taken separately. The four men had given similar statements as confession that they had been offered 100.000 TL (~$35.000), and the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and the “Chief” is also involved in the situation.

Raids against Media

The whistleblower from President Erdoğan’s circle “Fuat Avni” had spoken of raids against the critical news networks in the month of August, and several newspaper headquarters had been raided by police, and on September 5th, Hurriyet Daily’s HQ building was raided by an angry mob which seemed to have been coordinated and organized by an MP of the governing AK Party. The attack against Ahmet Hakan came in the aftermath of this raid, and several other Doğan Media journalists have been threatened openly, even during live broadcast through social media messages.

Massive Payment Promised in Return for Attack against Journalist

One of the assailants, K.E., has stated that they were offered 100.000 TL in order to carry out the attack; and the cross-examination of the statements have revealed the planned assault as to how the assailants carried out close examination and surveillance prior to the attack and how they followed the journalist back home.

The assailants have now been released except for one who is now under arrest; and all of them have changed their statements after they have been taken to the court house of Istanbul and met the prosecutor.

One of the assailants’ statement reveals that they were taken to a disclosed location and someone who introduced himself as the district chairperson told them that there is a problem with the journalist Ahmet Hakan and he needs to be beaten. The 100.000 TL promised would be arranged through the Ottoman Organization district directorate by someone named Nezir.

The assailants claim that they were under the influence of drugs at time of the negotiation and that’s why they had accepted the offer; and they also stated that they were promised immunity and no-investigation as the request has come from the state but would only realize the gravity of the issue once taken to Directorate of Combat with Organized Crime.

K.E. also stated that they have been deceived and were subjected to a conspiracy and would file a legal complaint about a retired special-ops officer called Y.K.G. who has given them the orders and given false legal information.

New-Deep State Involvement?

According to the statements from the assailants, Y.K.G., who owns a cafe in Fatih district of Istanbul, invited them and gave the orders there. He told them that Ahmet Hakan says “dead” rather than “martyr” for soldiers, and he supports HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) and provokes people. He added “the secret service is in this, whole security department is in this, the Chief is in this. In the next two days you are to finish this and the package will arrive.”

The assailants explain the event of the night as follows, “On the night of 30th, YKG was angry as we could not carry out the orders, then he told us that Ahmet Hakan’s program ends at 8:30pm. We went to the back-exit and followed his car until they came to the street where he lives. When his car stopped, we crushed slowly and he came out of the car after his bodyguard and driver. The bodyguard was warded off by one of us and when we finished we went back to Y.K.G.”

One of the assailants U.A. tells in his statement that they “met with someone named N.Ö. at Y.K.G.’s cafe and he told them that the Ottoman Organization (pro-AK Party far right youth assembly) would be much better than the Nationalist Movement Party (Far Right political party in the parliament with the abbreviation MHP). Upon following Ahmet Hakan with a car, the aim was to start a fight after a minor traffic accident. Once outside of the car, he made a run for his house, fell down and then upon second attempt to run he was caught and pushed and fell again.”

“After getting caught, in detention room we decided to tell the authorities that we got into a fight after a traffic accident, then we were transferred to the Organized Crime Unit. We were told that Hakam was a traitor and we were doing this for the state, in the name of security.”

According to cross-examination statements, Ahmet Hakan was requested to be beaten in such a way that he would be unable to hold a pen and write again; and the Y.K.G. would talk of him as a traitor who provokes violence. And the assailants were promised that they would receive a hero’s welcome by the security forces, justice, people and everyone as well as the promised sum of money.

Ahmet Hakan’s lawyer Aslı Kazan Gilmore, commented on the change of statements in the courthouse and said, “The assailants have given consistent statements regarding who requested them to do what and how much was promised, and it is all in coherence with what seems to have happened; however the investigation at the courthouse seems to have changed a few things alongside the statements given. Now the assailants deny their statements; the aim is to hide those who are behind this attack.”

Sep 292015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan99GetSmart

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The Turkish educational system suffers yet another blow; after last year’s signaling of a lifestyle indoctrination by President Erdoğan, this year’s new rules and regulations update seems to target the students’ future experiences and uses of free speech and questioning capacity. President Erdoğan had said “We have a problem with certain things, still. Thus we will tackle those problematic feelings by presenting [children with] a lifestyle, starting from as early as kindergarten onward.”

He had been talking about how the educational system was working in favor of “traitors” thus this was an open call for educational experts to work on new precautions to stop treason. The new rules and regulations that all children at school between the ages of 7 and 18 are subjected to now are as follows:

  • “National Values” is a recognized criteria that requires all pupils to comply with national and spiritual values; as well as present behaviors that follow general morality and customs. Failure in compliance results in expulsion from school.
  • Separatist, destructive, immoral, pro-violence content in the form of audio, textual, visual, video material will bring ultimate expulsion from school and the pupil will not be accepted back to schools anymore.
  • Students will only be allowed to miss 30 school days throughout the year; those who wish to become hafiz will not be required to comply with the 30 day limit.
  • Students who indulge in IT tools without the knowledge and control of the teacher will get disciplinary punishment.
  • Students who pester classmates through social media will get ultimate expulsion from school.
  • Students who share visual material that is shot at school, will be sent to disciplinary board.

In December 2014 President Erdoğan had accused the educational system of training individuals who are departing from their mother tongue and are ashamed of their society and culture; defined this as a national problem of training and discipline. After the national elections on June 7, 2015, the opposition parties all demanded to take ministry of education to reverse the harm done during the single party rule of AKP in the past 13 years, regarding the curricula and rules & regulations that are applied to children. The current system of national education in Turkey dictates a way of life and ideology.

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

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

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

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Nov 182014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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There has been a steep rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and attacks in Turkey over the last few years, especially during and after Israeli offensives in Palestinian lands. Most recently some racist and violent groups have taken up the excuse of the Al-Aqsa Mosque provocations and used this is a pretext to attack Turkish Jews and synagogues.

In order to protest against the rising anti-Semitism in Turkey and commemorate the horrific events of the past, the Say Stop collective held a protest meeting with dozens of participants. When activists gathered in Galatasaray Square in Taksim’s Istiklal, right next to the venue there were ten times more policemen than activists, as usual. The moment the banner was opened, interestingly enough some people came to ask questions in English, thinking anyone protesting anti-Semitism would come from abroad and not from within Turkey. It was also interesting to hear questions as to the meaning of the word “anti-Semitism,” as some of the passersby did not know what it means.

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In fact, this happened to be a delayed protest. There was supposed to have been a protest meeting to commemorate the Kristallnacht and rising anti-Semitism in Turkey the week before. This commemoration would be taking place in the open air for the first time in Turkey, yet for several reasons it did not happen. As Say Stop, a collective of anti-racist activists, was preparing for the commemoration, attacks on Neve Shalom Synagogue came as an unwelcome surprise. On November 7 and 9, two attacks took place; the timing was also significant because it was just a week before the 11th anniversary of the Al-Qaeda attacks on Istanbul’s Neve Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues on November 15th, 2003, which left 27 dead and 300 injured.

There are unfortunately many groups that take courage from the anti-Semitic rhetoric and hate speech notable people engage in with impunity. Over the summer of 2014, when the Israeli offensive in Gaza killed thousands, the head of the constitutional commission from the governing AKP, Samil Tayyar, had tweeted “may your ancestors perish, may your Hitlers be abundant,” which then led to a wave of anti-Semitic posts on social media. Imitating politicians and musicians who engaged in such rhetoric at the time, over 30,000 people made similar remarks, most of which would be considered hate speech. This hate speech was later followed by one shopkeeper putting up a sign that stated “Jew dogs cannot enter.”

“Jew dogs can not enter”

“Jew dogs can not enter”

One might also remember other instances of anti-Semitism prevailing in Turkey, such as the incident right after the mining tragedy in Soma, when current President Erdoğan had said “Jewish sperm” to a mourning relative of a miner as an accusation towards him. One other incident that was also picked up on the news was when the head of the Physics department of Bilecik University, Ali İhsan Göker, got into a quarrel with a journalist who published a story on anti-Semitism in Turkey in an Israeli newspaper. Dr. Göker referred to Treblinka, where hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and tweeted “Treblinka will be ready soon. Constructing the railway to transport Jews at the moment.”

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Say Stop, an all-inclusive collective of activists which had slowed down its activities for some months last year, has been campaigning against racism, nationalism, and discrimination. Just when activities were to be kick-started once again with the Racist of the Month “award,” 30 thousand candidates appeared in one month, which made things a little complicated. For the month of July, Say Stop declared all anti-Semites “Racist of the Month.”

And once again, the activists of Say Stop / DurDe will be with all those that are being targeted out of hatred for their origins, religion, language, choice, preference, status, etc. Just like the other groups that Say Stop campaigns in support of – such as Armenians, Roma, refugees, immigrants, and LGBTI individuals – the Jewish population is not alone.

 

 

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

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

Jul 222014
 

Posted by snakearbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

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Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

A not-so-secretive home-raiding operation was unleashed just days after the Gulenist movement’s newspapers started revealing statistics of the AKP government’s increasing trade with the Israeli government despite the anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli rhetoric that is prevalent in the AKP party. The operation is taking place only two hours after Erdogan appeared on a TV show saying, “It’s time for a cleaning now.” This sentence was the start of an operation that spread to 22 cities into the morning.

At 2:00 AM on July 22nd, Turkey experienced yet another “first time” in its history, and contrary to the permitted rules of home-raiding operations and arrests, hundreds of doors were knocked on in the middle of the night and arrests began. According to the penal code, house searches and arrests can only be made between 5:00 AM and 11:00 PM. However, in exceptional cases when the operation is led by the Organized Crime and Terrorism Taskforce, home raids on high-level suspects can be carried out at unorthodox times.

At this very moment, hundreds of homes are being raided as this article is being written. Police officers and police chiefs are being arrested, including the ones who participated in the home-raiding operations and operations against the secret service officers who were also involved in the corruption probe investigation against the government ministers, prime minister, and their sons. Another group of police officers are allegedly the ones who uncovered secret Iranian cells operating in Turkey, especially Tawhid-i Salam (linked to Quds Forces/Jerusalem Army).

The charges against the police officers include espionage and forging legal documents that led to the corruption probe being prepared in the last two years. The same accusations had been made against Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) officers after another nighttime raid was carried out on May 31^st against TIB. After the December 17 and 25 corruption probe arrests of dozens of people related to government and business networks, Erdogan had said “we will raid their caves.”

The timing of the operation is also significant. The home raids are taking place just hours before Erdogan addresses the Parliament before it is dissolved for summer recess which, is the last time before presidential elections in August 2014. As the dawn breaks, the operation is spreading to other districts of Istanbul and several other cities. Government “Deepthroat” @fuatavni writes “psychological combat tools are being used to divert public perception right before the elections.” In social media, the operation has been likened to the“Night of the Long Knives” that happened 80 years ago in Nazi Germany.

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

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Jul 032014
 

Posted by snakearbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Due to legal obstacles in prohibiting social media shares from political dissidents in Turkey, the government has a new strategy: to act as internet pirates. Much different than the political pirate movement, Turkey will now try to hack into ISPs’ systems and surveil on users’ browsing/sharing habits. With this aim, recently the internet watchdog has sent “secret orders” note to ISPs, to prepare necessary software infrastructure in order to detect the users that share unwanted content on social media platforms. Daily Taraf’s Tunca Ogreten’s article reveals government’s plans to intervene in internet users’ privacy and basic freedoms yet again.

The method to intervene in between the user agreement which secures privacy of the user regarding the service s/he signs up for, will hack into the HTTPS protocol and surveil on user habits. The government’s request from ISSs to establish a bug that will work as a spyware is planned to enable browsing all user behavior and data without his/her consent. This includes not only the content of social media updates a person shares but also the e-trade flow and all related data; and the system is planned to be open for immediate interventions.

ISPs will be declared Guilty, not the State

Taraf writes that an ISP manager who does not want to share his name states that s/he has tried telling the TIB authorities that HTTPS security protocol breach is unlawful and a crime but internet watchdog still wants to carry on with the spying plans. The blunt answer from TIB is “there are countries that are able to breach HTTPS traffic, figure it out and do the same.” ISPs state that this is going to be a major violation of human rights and will create security risks. However the strangest part may be that TIB does not install this system by its own; demands the private companies to do it. When it becomes possible to intervene in banking processes and millions of users’ accounts get drained, the internet watchdog that is probably after political surveillance and censorship, will not even be responsible for causing a crash in the economy. On the other hand, the internet regulations bill that is updated last January allows such applications as the law is not clear as to how state will block access to certain content.

Putting Students under Pressure

Another new regulation regarding use of internet is prepared to put more pressure on the most vibrant protesting group in the country: the students. In a country where distribution of wealth is quite uneven, millions of students are urged to live in state-run dormitories, however with the new regulations if a student criticizes government policies or complains of the conditions of universities/dormitories that student will be kicked out of the place. In case of a mass protest at a university or a dormitory, the minister of youth will be allowed to close down the dormitories for a time the minister pleases.

The new regulations and preparations do not cite what methods will be used to surveil on students media, social media appearance. However in certain crowds there are parallels being drawn between real-time censorship, interventions and surveillance, and the recently revealed NetClean software purchase.

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

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