In Turkey / Türkiye

New Cold, Sept 11, 2016

206 arrested, 30 others detained over coup charges on Saturday

By Turkey Purge, Sunday, Sept 11, 2016

Arrests in Turkey on Sept 10, 2016, including journalists Ahmet (L) and Mehmet Altan (photo montage on Turkey Purge)

Arrests in Turkey on Sept 10, 2016, including journalists Ahmet (L) and Mehmet Altan (photo montage on Turkey Purge)

A huge cleansing of Turkey’s state and other institutions is continuing as people from all walks of life find themselves being hunted down and taken into custody.

At least 206 people were arrested, while 30 others were detained on Saturday, according to Turkish news agencies.

Police carried out the operations in 18 provinces across Turkey. With most of the arrestees being teachers, those arrested over the past day also included police officers, academics, businessmen, doctors, university personnel, prison guards and a farmer.

Veteran journalist brothers Ahmet and Mehmet Altan were among those detained on Saturday. The Altan brothers are accused of ”giving subliminal messages suggesting a military coup” in their remarks during a TV program on July 14, a day before the bloody coup attempt.

Update on Sept 12, 2016: 82 arrested, 31 others detained over coup charges on Sept 11, Turkey Purge, Sept 12, 2016

The victims of Saturday operations carried out as part of a massive purge have been added to the already-huge group of people who have been either detained or arrested since July 15.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Despite Gülen and the movement having denied the accusation and calling for an international investigation, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

More than 100,000 people have been purged from state bodies, nearly 43,000 detained and 23,500 arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian.

Gov’t removes 28 elected mayors on terrorism charges

By Turkish Minute, Sunday, Sept 11, 2016

With authority vested by the state of emergency rule, the Turkish government removed 28 mayors on Sunday in the predominantly in Kurdish regions of the country, replacing them with trustees.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Interior Affairs, 28 mayors are accused of links with terrorist organizations. Twenty-four mayors allegedly support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). Four are claimed to have connections to the alleged “Fethullah Terrorist Organization” (FETÖ), an acronym the government has been using to refer to the Hizmet movement, despite the lack of a court ruling that proves any terrorist activity on the part of the movement.

The government’s decision to replace elected mayors with appointees was made possible by Decree No. 647 issued after a foiled coup on July 15.

There are two provinces, Hakkari and Batman, among the 28 local administrations whose mayors were removed. Almost all the mayors replaced were elected from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Following the decision, seen by many as an intervention into the will of the predominantly Kurdish populace, a protest took place in Hakkari and police detained some of the protesters.

The HDP reacted adversely to government’s new measures concerning the municipalities.

“The appointment of trustees is laying the groundwork for an internal war. This is a provocation. There is nothing left to talk about on this issue in terms of democracy and the law,” said HDP co-spokesman Ayhan Bilgen during a press conference on Sunday.

“Appointing trustees to an AKP municipality from municipal council but appointing trustees to HDP municipalities from the district governors. How can it not be called discrimination and separatism?” Bilgen said in a Twitter message as well.

“The regulation is against many articles of the Constitution and also against democratic international agreements, universal law and basic human rights, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Charter of Local Self-Government and Municipalities, of which Turkey is a signatory,” a written statement from the HDP said on Sunday.

The government defended the steps taken in the 28 municipalities.

“The new appointments to the municipalities means protecting the democratic constitutional state. Being elected does not give the person elected the right and authority to commit illegal acts,” said Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ in a tweet on Sunday.

“Despite the fact that they are not trained to run a municipality, our friends [district governors who were appointed as trustees to HDP municipalities] will demonstrate how municipalities should be run,” said Mehmet Özhaseki, minister of environment and urbanization, in remarks on the new regulation on Sunday.

Murat Karayılan, leader of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) – an umbrella organization that includes the terrorist PKK — said in a statement in June that they will directly attack the trustees that the government is planning to appoint to pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors’ offices.

“If they [the government] take over [HDP mayors’ offices], we will target whoever is appointed to replace the mayor. I am saying this openly. They want to expand the war, and they are imposing this on us. Of course, we will respond accordingly,” Karayılan said.

Although the mayors are predominantly from the Kurdish-populated regions, the Çamoluk district of Giresun province in the northern Black Sea area will also be run by a government-appointed trustee since its mayor, Savaş Akarçeşme, elected from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was arrested over to alleged links to the Hizmet movement in the wake of the failed coup.

Turkish PM: Gov’t to continue appointing administrators to Kurdish-run municipalities, by Turkish Minute,
Sept 12, 2016

Novelist Orphan Pamuk: Turkey is rapidly becoming a state of fear

By Turkish Minute, September 11, 2016

Turkish Nobel laureate novelist Orhan Pamuk

Turkish Nobel laureate novelist Orhan Pamuk

Nobel laureate novelist Orhan Pamuk on Saturday condemned the detention of prominent columnist brothers Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan, saying, “Turkey is rapidly becoming a state of fear and moving away from democracy.”

“I condemn the detention of Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan. Anyone who makes even a minor criticism of the government is being jailed on a pretext,” said Pamuk in a statement released over the weekend.

The Altan brothers were detained for “giving subliminal messages revealing the military coup” during a program on Can Erzincan TV on July 14. Nazli Ilicak, another participant of the program, was arrested on July 29 on terrorism charges as part of a probe into a failed coup on July 15.

Underlining his anger and disappointment about the situation Turkey is sliding into, Pamuk said:

“Asli Erdogan, Nazli Ilicak, Nuriye Akman, Necmiye Alpay and Sahin Alpay are well-known, beloved writers like Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan. Their ideas are closely followed by the people. All these writers should be released soon. If they need to be tried, it should be without detention. You can be sure that those insensible and pitiless practices create a very bad image of Turkey around the world.”

Ahmet Altan is a novelist and former editor-in-chief of the Taraf newspaper. The daily ran headlines that led to the Ergenekon and Balyoz coup plot investigations, which helped the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government diminish the role of the military in Turkish politics. After quitting Taraf, Ahmet Altan resumed writing harshly critical columns against the increasingly authoritarian AKP government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mehmet Altan, a professor of economics at Istanbul University, is also a columnist known for his liberal views and criticism of the government amid increasing and unprecedented pressure on the media and dissident voices. He was recently targeted by pro-Erdogan columnist Hilal Kaplan for not being dismissed from his position at the university at a time when hundreds of academics and teachers have been expelled from their posts as part of an investigation into the failed coup attempt.

The Altan brothers are the sons of the late Çetin Altan, a long-time columnist and leftist politician.

According to the P24 website as many as 120 journalists are now behind bars in Turkey.

President Erdogan and the AKP government have turned their media crackdown into an all-out war against critical media members and outlets following the failed coup attempt of July 15.

The government has closed down more than 130 media organizations, including three news agencies, 16 TV stations, 23 radio stations, 46 newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers since the failed military coup.

At least 2,308 journalists have lost their jobs since the July 15 failed coup attempt, according to a joint statement made by press associations on Friday.

The statement noted that 115 permanent press cards and 660 press cards have been canceled by the Prime Ministry’s Media Press and Information General Directorate (BYEGM) since the coup attempt.


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