20-Jul-2018 11:14

Unrepentant neighbours beat Turkish woman for hugging boyfriend

A woman has appeared on Turkish television with two black eyes and injuries on her legs after being beaten by neighbourhood residents for hugging her boyfriend in a public area, secularist newspaper Cumhuriyet reported on Thursday. The woman appeared visibly shaken on camera as she related how she was set upon by residents of Kurfalı in Kartal, Istanbul who objected to a parting hug shared with her boyfriend as he left her at her home.

The woman said that after the trouble started she was beaten by a group of local men. Over 30 people witnessed the beating but said nothing as the men pulled her hair and dragged her along the ground, she said. The woman reported the incident to the police and has launched legal action against her attackers.

One of these, however, appeared completely unrepentant and unconcerned about the legal repercussions as he agreed to speak to the television about the event. “My home is here, and I don’t have to see anyone’s relations in public,” he said. “There are homes, hotels, residence, let them go there,” he continued, adding that the pair had not only hugged but also kissed. “If someone else comes to my street and behaves in a way I don’t want with a woman, not just me but the whole neighbourhood would do the same again,” he said. Source

Man sentenced to 15 years in jail for kissing daughter on lips

A Turkish court sentenced a man to 15 years in prison on July 11 for kissing his daughter on the lips while the prosecutor demanded his acquittal.  According to the court files seen by daily Hürriyet, a woman, who was unidentified, had filed for divorce from her husband claiming he had cheated on her.

The Ankara First Family Court ruled for divorce in December 2017, while entrusting the custody of the couple’s two daughters to the mother. Seeking his help to do her homework, the couple’s 11-year-old daughter called her father to their home on March 9, 2018 with the permission of her mother.

After her father left the house, the girl told her mother her father had kissed her on the lips, which led the woman to file a criminal complaint against him. Source

Turkish gendarmerie seizes 800 kg of skunk weed

The Turkish gendarmerie on Wednesday seized 800 kilograms of skunk weed, a form of cannabis, according to gendarmerie sources. The gendarmerie was acting on intelligence about drugs smuggled from abroad stored in a depot in Istanbul's Basaksehir Organized Industry Site, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

Then an operation was carried out at the depot, where 800 kilograms of skunk weed was found, along with a substance called fubinaca used to produce the drug bonsai. A suspect was arrested over the incident and later brought before a court and remanded in custody. Investigation of the suspect's links is continuing, the sources added. Source

Court rules to keep former HDP co-chair Demirtaş in prison

A Turkish high criminal court has decided to keep former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş in prison during a trial in which he faces terror charges.

The last hearing of Demirtaş’s trial in which he is charged with leading a terrorist organization was held at the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court on Wednesday.

Demirtaş, who has been in pre-trial detention at Edirne Prison since November 2016, did not appear at the hearing, which was attended by his lawyers, some HDP deputies and family members. Demirtaş’s lawyers asked for the release of their client, objecting to the prosecutor’s opinion that there is strong evidence showing Demirtaş committed the crimes he is accused of and that he presents a flight risk.

Turkish president and son-in-law given privatisation powers

Turkey’s president and finance minister have both been given the power to privatise state assets with a new presidential decree, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said .

The new decree, on the topic of “Institutions and Organisations Part of, Linked to and Related to Ministries and the Organisation of other Institutions and Organisations” gave President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son-in-law, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, the power to issue orders to the Privatisation Administration Department (ÖİB).

Previously, the ÖİB was instructed by a council on privatisation chaired by the prime minister. Turkey’s Social Security Institution was also reformed by the decree, with the president now determining its policies and strategies. Source

Judge who defied top Turkish court wins promotion

A Turkish criminal court judge who openly defied a ruling of the country’s Constitutional Court has been promoted to the Supreme Court, the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper said . Judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ made headlines when the Constitutional Court ruled to release government critic Mehmet Altan, who was detained on terror charges, but defied the judicial hierarchy to reject the decision and order Altan’s continued detention.

Dağ was also the head judge at the trial of a number of Cumhuriyet journalists charged with espionage, aiding terrorists and revealing state secrets over an article that revealed that Turkey’s secret services were shipping arms to Syrian rebel groups.

The newspaper said that throughout the trial he sought to pass judgment on its opposition editorial line. Twelve Cumhuriyet journalists were sentenced to between three and eight years when the case concluded on April 25. Among the other judges promoted to the Supreme Court was Hulusi Pur, who is best known for giving pianist Fazıl Say a 10-month prison sentence for blasphemy after sharing lines of poetry by Omar Khayyam on Twitter. Source

Russian tourist kills Ukrainian in Alanya over World Cup game

Andrey Sova, a Ukrainian tourist lost his life in Turkey’s popular holiday destination Alanya, due to punches and kicks he received during a fight with a Russian tourist that broke out over a World Cup game between Russia and Croatia on July 7. The Russian tourist, who was unidentified, reacted to Sova when the Ukrainian man cheered when Croatia scored against Russia in the quarter final game. The argument between the two men developed into a physical confrontation.

Sova was severely injured in the fight and was admitted to a local hospital. The man, who struggled for his live in the hospital’s intensive care unit, died on July 14. Local gendarmerie forces detained the Russian tourist and he was referred to a penal court in Alanya.

The court initially ruled for the release of the Russian man on probation. He was also banned from leaving Turkey. However, the Alanya chief prosecutor challenged the court’s ruling. Upon the prosecutor’s objection, the Russian man was detained once again on July 16 and this time the court ruled for his arrest.
Croatia beat the host Russia 4-3 on penalties in the quarter final game. Source

Court rules to keep 44 suspects behind bars in ISIL nightclub attack case

An Istanbul court on July 18 ruled for the continuation of the detention of 44 suspects in a case of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortaköy district in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2017 that killed 39 people. A total of 58 suspects are tried in the case.

During the hearing people in the courtroom watched video footages from security cameras which showed the moments Uzbek jihadist Abdulkadir Masharipov carried out the attack and escaped from the scene.

In the courtroom, a lawyer of Lebanon’s consulate general in Istanbul said “this was a professionally executed attack and Masharipov was acting very calm.” Then he asked the suspect whether the U.S. or Israeli agents trained him. Masharipov was reminded that he has the right to remain silent.

“This is not a kind of answer I could give,” Masharipov responded. The suspects and their lawyers demanded their release. After assessing the demand, the panel of judges decided to keep the suspects in jail until the next hearing, scheduled for Nov. 19. A total of 39 people were killed and 79 others were wounded, including foreign nationals, when Masharipov opened fire on the revelers at Reina. Source

Loathed, hunted down, Gülen Movement finished in Turkey

With tens of thousands of devotees either jailed in Turkey, fired from their jobs or on the run abroad after the failed coup of 2016, even followers of reclusive U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen admit his movement has no future in Turkey, where government loyalists and secularists alike loathe the group for its abuses of power.

Formed in the 1970s, the global Islamic network, known as Hizmet (service) to its followers, became a major player in Turkey in a loose alliance with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002. The secretive movement encouraged graduates of Gülen’s hundreds of schools to take jobs in the civil service, police, judiciary, armed services and the media, from where they began to wield huge power without ever winning an election.

As prosecutors linked to Gülen launched mass trials of secularists they accused of being part of a secret conspiracy to overthrow the state, the AKP, which emerged from a string of banned Islamist parties, voiced its support. But the AKP split dramatically with the Gülenists in 2013 when prosecutors accused members of Erdoğan’s inner circle of corruption.

After the failure of what the AKP calls the “judicial coup” of 2013, the government says Gülenists tried to seize power with a coup. More than 260 people were killed during the abortive putsch of July 15, 2016. Gülen and his followers deny any involvement, but experts say his followers were involved.

“My sense is that the prime mover behind the coup was Gülenists,” said Svante E. Cornell, director and co-founder of the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm, adding that many non-Gülenists also joined in.

“By the same token, I don’t think at all that most of the people in the Gülen movement had any idea that this was going to happen,” he said.

While some Gülenists had reached the highest levels of the state bureaucracy, many were ordinary teachers or low-level bureaucrats with no direct connection to the core of the group or knowledge of how it worked, according to sociologist Joshua Hendrick, who wrote a seminal book on the movement in 2013.

“The expression used within the community is that the left hand never knows what the right hand is up to at any given time,” Hendrick said.

There is no concrete proof that Gülen or anyone in his core group planned the coup, but experts say its adherents wouldn’t undertake something so large without orders or permission from the top.

“I think it’s highly unlikely that they were acting independently. Everything I’ve seen of the movement evidences its extremely hierarchical structure,” said Caroline Tee, a social anthropologist at the University of Cambridge who also wrote a book about the Gülen movement, published in 2016.

“It’s my experience that every aspect of (a follower’s) life is mediated by their Gülenist connection,” she said.

After the attempted coup, authorities accelerated a purge of affiliated individuals and organisations already underway after the 2013 split.

Since then, more than 150,000 people, including more than 30,000 teachers, have been fired or suspended from their jobs, mostly without any charges or evidence presented. Many or most are believed to be Gülen followers. Purged workers, their names publicly listed, are blacklisted from their professions. The government announced in December that 234,419 passports had been revoked.

“The movement has been sociologically exterminated in Turkey. I call it a social genocide,” Özcan Keleş, a lawyer and chair of the Gülen-affiliated, London-based Dialogue Society, told Ahval.

Turkey has shut down 1,064 private schools, 15 universities and more than 1,500 associations. The government has also seized more than 1,000 companies linked to the Gülen movement worth at least $11 billion, and thousands of other properties worth billions more, recalling the Turkish state’s long  history  of confiscating  property from minorities  deemed as undesirable.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said this month that 38,470 members of what Turkish leaders now call the Fethullahist Terror Organisation (FETÖ) had been convicted or remanded in custody. More than 18 months after the coup, some 500 people a week are being detained on suspicions of Gülen connections, according to Interior Ministry statistics .

Citizens, encouraged by the government, have reported their own family members as Gülenists, columnists have openly called for the killing of Gülen supporters and their families, and relatives of Hizmet supporters who have fled abroad have been arrested . Authorities have been accused of abducting and torturing suspects in Turkey.

“We got a note from people in Turkey the other day, saying they’re banished from the marketplace. These are professors, doctors, journalists and whatnot, and they can’t even go and sell pickles in the market. So what are these people to do? They’re homeless, they’re unemployed, they’re unemployable,” said Keleş.

The government has acknowledged that many denunciations have been false and based on personal vendettas. The word ‘FETÖ’ has become a catchall pejorative term. The head of a taxi union recently said ridesharing company Uber was “exactly like FETÖ”.

“If you want to get rid of somebody for your own purposes, call them a Gülenist and it’s going to make your life much easier,” said Cornell. “There’s clearly a witch-hunt going on. I know people who had nothing to do with the Gülen movement who were purged.”

Even so, there is very little sympathy in Turkey for the plight of Gülen’s followers. Due to documented and suspected abuses of power and the widespread belief that Gülen was behind the attempted coup, Gülen supporters are disliked in Turkey by nearly every group but their own.

People in Turkey, “haven’t been able to get beyond this notion that they’re a shadowy, murky group trying to gain power with an unclear motive,” Cornell said. “You almost find that people are more afraid of the Gülen movement than of Erdoğan, and the dislike for the Gülen movement is stronger.”

Selim Sazak, an analyst and doctoral student at Brown University in the United States, said contempt for the Gülen movement from the secular half of Turkey’s divided society was heightened by the fact that Gülenists blocked secularists like him from government jobs, and helped the AKP take control of the state and persecute secularists and other opponents.

“The reason everyone's so angry at the Gülenists is that, A: they were the public face of all of this and, B: Erdoğan couldn't have done this without them,” he said. “They were a religious group bent on taking over the state apparatus and yanking Turkey in their own direction.”

Sazak, who was advised against applying for the foreign service because of his secular background, said people like him had been warning about the movement’s rise since the 1980s, but were dismissed by some as paranoid Islamophobes.

“So there's an element of Cassandra-esque indignation,” he said.

Cornell said the almost universal distaste for the Gülenists in Turkey made the future of the movement there look very dim, even if the government changes.

“Especially because there is such a massive consensus in Turkey, even outside of Erdoğan and his people, that this was a Gülen-orchestrated coup, it’s going to make it very difficult for the Gülen movement to come back to Turkey,” he said. “I think for the foreseeable future being a Gülenist in Turkey will be very difficult.”

Keleş acknowledged the resentment and said it was time for the movement to embrace criticism and reform.

“Clearly the movement is disliked now. A lot of that is to do with dehumanisation, but some of it is to do with some of the practices associated with it,” he said.

The campaign against the Gülenists in Turkey and the evident distaste for them from all sections of Turkish society has affected the movement’s feeling for the country of its origin, he said.

“What I’ve observed is that the level of state persecution, coupled with the public indifference to that persecution has caused a psychological and emotional break for many Hizmet participants. Many can’t see themselves returning even if the political atmosphere changed dramatically.”

“A lot of people in the movement recognise that the future lies outside of Turkey and that Turkey is a lost cause,” Keleş said. “The movement shouldn’t return.”

Tee said the movement might do fine in the West, especially since it is seen as a staunch enemy of the unpopular Erdoğan.

“I think the West is where to watch them in the future. I think this is where they’ll be regrouping,” she said.

Experts said the movement would likely splinter after the death of 76-year-old Gülen, who is reported not to be in good health.

“As far as I know, there will be no one to replace him,” said an academic formerly close to the movement who declined to be named. “Post-Gülen will be better for the members.” The group would go on in one form or another, he said, but “as an institution, I think the movement is over”. Source

Turkish man detained after applying to change name to comics character Cedric

A Turkish man has been detained after it was revealed that he was a military draft-dodger when he applied to officially change his name to Cedric, a Franco-Belgian comics character.

Ercan Şentürk, 24, applied to the First Civil Court in the western province of Bursa to rename himself after Cedric, to whom he said he was likened by his friends, local media reported on July 14.

The court reportedly accepted Şentürk’s application and inquired his identity information to proceed, which revealed that the man was a draft-dodger.

Security forces apprehended Şentürk at the courthouse and sent him to the local draft center to be sent to military training, local media said. The first hearing of the case for name change was held in the Bursa court on July 12, but Şentürk was not able to attend it as he was sent to military service.

If Şentürk fails to attend the next two hearings, the case will drop and his name will not change officially. Written by Raoul Cauvin, illustrated by Laudec, Cedric is one of the most popular French language comics series. Source

53 terrorists 'neutralized' over past week

A total of 53 terrorists were “neutralized” during counter-terrorism operations across Turkey over the past week, the country’s Interior Ministry said Monday. Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

Security forces carried out 1,950 counter-terrorism raids across Turkey from July 9-16, the ministry said. The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- resumed its armed campaign against Turkey in July 2015.

Since then, it has been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including a number of women and children. Source

Turkish singer gets 11 months plus 20 days in prison for insulting Erdogan

The İstanbul Regional Court’s 2nd Penal Chamber on Thursday handed down a suspended 11 month, 20 day sentence to famous pop singer Zuhal Olcay for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The sentence was suspended on condition that she not commit the same crime for a year and a half.

Olcay was reported to the police on Aug. 5, 2016 after a concert in Kadıköy, İstanbul, for making an insulting hand gesture in reference to Erdoğan. After examining footage from the concert, the Anadolu Republic Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office indicted Olcay, demanding a sentence of between one year, two months and four years, eight months.

The İstanbul 46th Court of First Instance sentenced Olcay to a year in prison in March but had reduced it to 10 months due to good behavior. Since she had a previous sentence for insulting a state official, the court ruled to execute the punishment and sent her to prison. Olcay later appealed to the İstanbul Regional Court, demanding her acquittal. Source