Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Turkey Updates ( Twitter block , Police brutality , Local Elections and alleged intimidation in focus ) - March 26 , 2014 -- A 10-year-old child was seriously injured during a protest in the southeastern province of Diyarbakıron March 25 after he was allegedly hit by a tear-gas canister fired by police....... An Ankara administrative court has issued a stay of execution on an executive decision adopted by Turkey’s telecommunication’s authority (TİB) to block access to Twitter, as the ban entered its sixth day on March 26. ...... Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has maintained that Sudan, governed by President Omar al-Bashir, would be an appropriate place for exile for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the March 30 local elections....... More than 100 armed provocateurs have been brought to Turkey’s capital for the purpose of sabotaging the upcoming elections, the main opposition party’s mayoral candidate for Ankara has said, citing key bodies of the state as sources for the information.


Another child injured during police intervention

DİYARBAKIR - ISTANBUL

Mehmet Ezer receives treatment after becoming the latest child to be struck in the head by a police tear-gas canister. 
Mehmet Ezer receives treatment after becoming the latest child to be struck in the head by a police tear-gas canister.
A 10-year-old child was seriously injured during a protest in the southeastern province of Diyarbakıron March 25 after he was allegedly hit by a tear-gas canister fired by police.

After the Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP) electoral rally in the Azizoğlu Square in the Silvan district, a masked group allegedly pelted police with stones and shot fireworks at them, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported. As police attacked back with tear gas and water cannon, "an object" hit the head of Mehmet Ezer, 10, the agency reported.

Witnesses said Ezer was hit by a tear gas canister, while Gülten Kışanak, the co-leader of the BDP, went to Diyarbakır Dicle University hospital where the injured child was treated. Doctors announced that Ezer's injury was still life-threatening but that they had managed to stop the bleeding.

Leyla Zana, an independent deputy from Diyarbakır, was among the Kurdish politicians who visited the hospital. Zana said she had a phone conversation with Interior Minister Efkan Ala. According to Zana, Ala told her that an investigation was underway and an investigator would arrive in Diyarbakır on Wednesday.

Under close supervision

On the morning of March 26, doctors said Ezer’s condition was showing improvement and he had regained consciousness, adding that he remained under close medical supervision in the intensive care unit.

The doctors also said the 10-year-old had been able to talk with Zana at the hospital.

Daily Evrensel reporter Faruk Ayyıldız reported on March 26 that Ezer's condition remained serious but that the signs were positive, adding that doctors had said the first 24 hours would be critical in determining the boy's chances for recovery.

Diyarbakır Gov. Mustafa Cahit Kıraç and Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker met with Ezer's family on the morning of March 26 , during which the boy's relatives demanded that those responsible for the incident be found. Kıraç, meanwhile, reportedly blamed the family for the incident, saying the parents should have taken better care of their child, according to Ayyıldız.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Umut Oran tweeted about the incident, repeating the claim that Ezer was hit by a tear gas canister. "We're very sad," he said.

Fourteen-year-old Berkin Elvan was shot by a tear gas canister during last year's Gezi Park protests and died March 11 at the age of 15 after spending 269 days in a coma, becoming a symbol of police violence in Turkey.

According to reports, important leads have been found in the investigations into the deaths of Elvan and Burak Can Karamanoğlu, who was killedby unknown assailants after Elvan’s funeral in Istanbul's Okmeydanı neighborhood March 12.





Ankara court grants stay of execution for government's Twitter ban

ANKARA

The government had blocked access to the social media network late March 21 sparking global outcry. REUTERS photo 
The government had blocked access to the social media network late March 21 sparking global outcry. REUTERS photo
An Ankara administrative court has issued a stay of execution on an executive decision adopted by Turkey’s telecommunication’s authority (TİB) to block access to Twitter, as the ban entered its sixth day on March 26.

The government had blocked access to the social media network late March 21, hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğanvowed “to wipe out Twitter,” sparking global outcry.

A number of complaints were filed to courts last week to revoke the ban following the controversial move. The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), the Ankara Bar Associations, and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Oktay Vural were among those applying to the administrative court to invalidate the ban.

The TİB has a right to object to the ruling, but access should be reopened before a second decision is made, legal experts consulted by daily Hürriyet said.

The Constitutional Court is also expected to review individual applications regarding the ban on March 26.

The decision comes after Erdoğan indicated the possibility that the ban could be extended to other popular social websites like YouTube and Facebook.

The government had accused Twitter of “indifference” over Turkish court decisions to withdraw content considered as violating the right of privacy.

Twitter quickly started talks with the Turkish government through a lawyer, reassuring users in the country that the service would return soon and the network would ensure protection of their privacy.

Erdoğan said during a live TV broadcast March 26 that  Twitter had agreed to remove "one or two" pieces of content from the social media platform, but this was not enough. There are "approximately 700 pieces of content" that his government has demanded be removed, he added.
March/26/2014

CHP leader suggests Sudan for PM Erdoğan’s post-election exile

DENİZLİ / ANKARA

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu speaks to his supporters during an election rally in the Aegean province of Denizli. AA photo 
CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu speaks to his supporters during an election rally in the Aegean province of Denizli. AA photo
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has maintained that Sudan, governed by President Omar al-Bashir, would be an appropriate place for exile for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the March 30 local elections.

Erdoğan has been portraying theCHP as a party which has no concrete projects for the country, Kılıçdaroğlu said yesterday, maintaining that this was because Erdoğan was so busy with corrupt work that he had no idea about those projects.

“But I will explain [these projects] to my nation. During the CHP rule, he will flee abroad. I have found an appropriate country for him: Omar al-Bashir’s Sudan. He [Bashir] was tried before an international court for committing a massacre and he was convicted,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Back in 2008, al-Bashir attended a summit of African leaders in Turkey, shortly after the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor asked the court to issue an arrest warrant related to crimes in Darfur.

Neither Sudan nor Turkey recognizes the international court based at The Hague. In 2009, Turkey avoided a visit to Istanbul from al-Bashir through a last-minute intervention. Erdoğan’s then denial of Darfur atrocities by saying “a Muslim can never commit genocide” at the time caused a reaction.

Meanwhile, speaking in an interview on Kral FM radio, Kılıçdaroğlu confirmed that the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), sister-party of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) which shares the same grassroots as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), approached the CHP about cooperating for the elections.

“That’s true, such a proposal came and we didn’t found it appropriate. When I got involved in politics, I said that I would tell the truth to people. They came, they offered cooperation and we didn’t accept. We said, ‘This will harm us.’ I’ve been telling the same view today, too,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, when reminded of earlier remarks by HDP co-leader Sebahat Tuncel.
March/25/2014

Mayoral rivals warn of violence in Ankara

ANKARA

Ankara becomes Turkey’s capital of intrigue as rumors about assassination plots against opposition leaders swirl just days before the March 30 polls

The CHP’s candidate for the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, Mansur Yavaş (C), is challenging Melih Gökçek, who has been holding the chair since 1994. 
The CHP’s candidate for the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, Mansur Yavaş (C), is challenging Melih Gökçek, who has been holding the chair since 1994.
More than 100 armed provocateurs have been brought to Turkey’s capital for the purpose of sabotaging the upcoming elections, the main opposition party’s mayoral candidate for Ankara has said, citing key bodies of the state as sources for the information.

Some undesirable incidents that have taken place in the run-up to the local elections on March 30 seem set to continue, the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate for Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, Mansur Yavaş, said at a press conference at his election office on March 25.

Yavaş's remarks came a day after Ankara’s incumbent mayor, Melih Gökçek of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said assassinations against opposition leaders aimed at "dragging Turkey into chaos" were "very likely."

“Those who have so far campaigned via separating people into camps through a strategy of tension have begun to try every way in order to get results through the same method,” Yavaş said, noting how Gökçek had frequently suggested that assassinations were likely to take place.

“According to the information obtained from the most important units of our state, a serious attack against me and my team has been planned. In order to create chaos before the elections, provocative attacks will be launched on election offices of the CHPunder the guise of being conducted by the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party], and at election offices of the MHP under the guise of being conducted by the CHP. More than 100 armed provocateurs have been brought to Ankara from outside the city for this aim and the elections will be sabotaged by creating turmoil when ballot boxes are opened and votes are counted,” Yavaş said.

When asked whether he expected an “assassination,” he referred to Gökçek's own remarks about "probable assassinations."

The main opposition candidate underlined how he had not been in a position to take required measures against such probabilities other than protecting himself. “However, if there is something like this going on, it is a duty for the ruling party to take measures. Otherwise, they will be responsible for even one drop of blood being shed,” Yavaş said.

Gökçek, speaking in an interview with Ülke TV late on March 24, voiced his own concern over "probable assassination" attempts against opposition leaders, listing the names of Yavaş, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, and CHP Istanbul mayoral candidate Mustafa Sarıgül.

“God forbid, we are afraid of assassinations against leaders of opposition parties. We had earlier received various assassination notices about ourselves. This time, the hearsay that we have received has worried us. I’m afraid that it may happen to Kılıçdaroğlu, Bahçeli, Yavaş or to Sarıgül in Istanbul. I am saying this much clearly. A political assassination will be attempted. They want to drag Turkey into an environment of chaos,” Gökçek said.

Yavaş, meanwhile, also touched on the ongoing rumors about election fraud, while again reiterating that his party was not the authority to deal with this problem.

“If there is fraud, it is [the AKP’s] duty to take measures at all ballot boxes,” he said.

CHP officials attacked by unknown assailants 

An incident that took place in the Sincan district of Ankara early on March 25 added to the growing sense of fear in the city. In it, five local officials from the CHP were wounded in an attack by unknown people when party officials attempted to prevent municipal police from removing the party’s posters and flags from a crossroad.

CHP Sincan district head Ömer Yılmaz and four other members were injured when a group attacked them with sticks and knives. The attackers also fired guns and damaged vehicles in the area.

Municipal police reportedly started to remove the CHP flags under the monitoring of security forces before officials from the party arrived at the scene. CHP officials talked to the municipal police and were told that the operation would stop at the district’s Polatlı Avenue.

After the CHP members began to wait at the corner of 12th Street, the group attacked them at around 1 a.m., Yılmaz said, stressing that they "could have been killed" if the police had not been present on the scene.

'Turning CHP and MHP voters against each other'


Yavaş, for his part, suggested that the towns of Gölbaşı and Etimesgut, where municipalities are held by the MHP, had particularly been targeted by provocateurs with the aim of polarizing supporters of the CHP and the MHP.

He also claimed that the CHP was "at least 4 percent ahead of the AKP" and aimed to win "at least 51 percent of the votes" on March 30.

Gökçek has held the Ankara mayoralty since 1994. Yavaş was the candidate for the MHP in the previous 2009 local elections but received only 27 percent of the vote, finishing third. Still, the result was regarded as a success, as he managed to increase the MHP’s vote rate by 10 percent from the previous local elections in 2004.

His nomination was widely considered as a reflection of the CHP’s March 2014 election policy of nominating candidates who will get the most votes in particular areas, even if they are not of CHP origin.

Yavaş was elected as Beypazarı mayor twice in a row in 1999 and 2004 from the MHP, gaining popularity not only among MHP voters but also among others, mainly due to his success at turning Beypazarı into a popular tourism spot.
March/25/2014