Syrian rebels allowed to attack Latakia from Turkish soil under Turkish air cover. Iran raises Cain in Ankara



DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 29, 2014, 10:45 PM (IST)

Intense fighting for Kasab in northwest Syria

Turkey has ratcheted up its intervention in the Syrian war to an unprecedented level, according to exclusive debkafile military and intelligence sources. For the first time in the three-year conflict the Turkish army is allowing Syrian rebel forces, including the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, passage through Turkish territory for their offensive to capture the northwestern Syrian coastal area where the Assad clan’s lands are situated.

Ankara’s support for the rebels is inclusive: Turkish troops are posted at the roadside with supplies of ammo, fuel, food, mechanical repair crews and medical aid for rebel forces as they head north. The Turkish air force gives them air cover and Turkish agents arm them with surveillance data on Syrian military movements ahead. Continue reading “Syrian rebels allowed to attack Latakia from Turkish soil under Turkish air cover. Iran raises Cain in Ankara”

Syria accuses Turkey of downing fighter jet over Syrian teritory

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says its armed forces have shot down a Syrian military jet which had violated its airspace.

He warned such action by Syria merited a “heavy response”. Continue reading “Syria accuses Turkey of downing fighter jet over Syrian teritory”

Turkey may ban Facebook and YouTube

 EEV: We have conflicting reports at one point he said he was, than he says no (according to the Irish Times, link below)

–  Turkey’s Prime Minister Suthep Tayyip Erdogan says these organizations encourage every kind of immorality and espionage for their own ends

March 07, 14:56


ANKARA, March 07. /ITAR-TASS/. Turkish authorities may ban Facebook and YouTube after March 30 local elections, Turkey’s Prime Minister Suthep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with ATV television channel broadcast late on Thrusday.

“We are determined on this subject. We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook. We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way,” Erdogan stressed, adding that a possible ban on these online resources was included in prospective measures. “These people or organizations encourage every kind of immorality and espionage for their own ends. And there are no boundaries. Such concept of freedom is unacceptable,” he added.

Social networks have become a convenient platform for those who oppose Erdogan, as they can distribute compromising information about the leader via Internet, including wiretapped telephone conversations and corruption scandal details. Continue reading “Turkey may ban Facebook and YouTube”

Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan allegedly spoke with his son about plans to hide 1.1 billion U.S. dollars worth of cash amid a massive anti-graft probe ( Engineers Confirm Authenticity Of Voice Recording Between PM, Son )

Highlights: EEV- This is just preliminary and not yet fully confirmed

– , Attila Özdemiroglu, a musician and recording engineer who was once the president of the Musical Work Owners’ Society of Turkey (MESAM), tweeted that this recoding has not been spliced together

– Another recording engineer, Erdem Helvacioglu, also released a statement on the recording that was made public on Monday evening, saying: “I have listened to the recording again and again. This recording is definitely authentic. As a recording engineer with a Ph.D., you can trust me.”

– Ali Büyük, wrote on his social media account on Tuesday that the recording is not spliced. He stated: “The recording is not spliced. You can test this recording via an ordinary plug-in analyzer.”

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Cover of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

– the Republican People’s Party (CHP), after matching the specific times when the phone calls were allegedly made and the sequence of events of Erdogan’s visit to Konya, said it was possible for him to have made the calls. CHP leader Kemal Kiliçdaroglu said on Tuesday the voice recording between Erdogan and his son is not a spliced conversation, responding to the controversy over the authenticity of the voice recording. Continue reading “Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan allegedly spoke with his son about plans to hide 1.1 billion U.S. dollars worth of cash amid a massive anti-graft probe ( Engineers Confirm Authenticity Of Voice Recording Between PM, Son )”

Riots erupt on streets of Istanbul after Turkish government clamps down on internet – Opponents say sweeping new powers are effort to hush-up corruption scandal

  • Protestors are angry over far-reaching government powers to block web pages ‘within hours’
  • The demonstrators threw stones and set off fireworks after riot police fired water cannons
  • Prime Minister says new powers have been introduced to protect privacy, not stifle criticism

By Sam Webb

UPDATED:          13:46 EST, 9 February 2014


Police fired water cannon and teargas to disperse thousands of people protesting in central Istanbul yesterday against new controls on the internet approved by parliament this week.

The new powers, once approved by the president, will let authorities block web pages within hours, in what the opposition has said is part of a government bid to stifle discussion of a corruption scandal.

Riot police advanced along Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue behind armoured vehicles firing water cannon at protesters, some of whom waved flags and held up placards.

Some demonstrators responded by throwing stones or setting off fireworks aimed at police before scattering into side streets.

‘Everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption,’ some chanted, in a variation of an anti-government slogan used by demonstrators in protests across the country last summer.

The government says the internet reform, sent to parliament before the graft inquiry became public late last year but broadened in recent weeks, is aimed at protecting individual privacy and not gagging its critics.

Anger: Turkish riot police take cover behind their shields as fireworks explode in front of them during clashes with anti-government protestors

Anger: Turkish riot police take cover behind their shields as fireworks explode in front of them during clashes with anti-government protestors

Continue reading “Riots erupt on streets of Istanbul after Turkish government clamps down on internet – Opponents say sweeping new powers are effort to hush-up corruption scandal”

Turkish govt fending off ‘mini-coup attempt’ – minister

Turkey’s government said Tuesday it was fending off an “attempted mini-coup” by elements in the police and judiciary, Reuters reported. The ruling AK Party had in the past survived military coup plots, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said, adding that the party would not now yield to a current corruption investigation he said targeted the government but was already damaging the national economy. “These latest formations in the judiciary and the police, we can’t call it a coup, but a mini-coup attempt,” Babacan said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier accused the “Hizmet” (Service) movement led by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen of creating a “state within a state.” Continue reading “Turkish govt fending off ‘mini-coup attempt’ – minister”

Turkey: woman detained for protesting Erdogan with shoebox


30 December, 13:03


(ANSAmed) – ANKARA, DECEMBER 30 – Turkish police detained a woman in the western province of Manisa yesterday after she protested against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a shoebox, in a reference to money found in shoeboxes during a major corruption operation, as Cihan News Agency reported. Continue reading “Turkey: woman detained for protesting Erdogan with shoebox”

Turkey rocked by corruption scandal

Turkey’s government is in crisis: Within a few hours, three ministers resigned over a corruption scandal. Prime Minister Erdogan claims his government is victim of a plot.

2013 has not been a good year for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The massive anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul’s Gezi Park in the summer were a shock to the regime. Now, the government is being hit with the biggest corruption scandal in modern Turkish history – and Erdogan’s AK Party is right at its center.

On December 17, some 50 people were arrested in raids in Istanbul and Ankara. At the heart of the investigations: an oil deal with neighboring Iran. The oil was allegedly paid through illegal channels in gold, due to UN sanctions against Tehran. Continue reading “Turkey rocked by corruption scandal”

Thousands urge Turkish PM’s resignation as graft scandal shakes gov’t

Edited time: December 26, 2013 01:28                                                                            

Demonstrators run away as they clash with riot police (unseen) during a protest against corruption in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul on December 25, 2013 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)Demonstrators run away as they clash with riot police (unseen) during a protest against corruption in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul on December 25, 2013 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

​Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Turkey demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid a widening corruption scandal rattling his government. There are reports of tear gas and clashes with police in Istanbul.

Over 5,000 people gathered in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district and  some 1,000 in the Besiktas district late on Wednesday, Xinhua  news agency reports. Protesters have also gathered in the capital  of Ankara, as well as in Izmir and other cities.

Police have fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. At  least four people have been arrested, according to Firat news  agency.

Late on Wednesday, Erdogan announced  a major cabinet reshuffle, replacing 10 key ministers. This came  soon after the resignation of interior, economy, and environment  ministers over a high profile corruption investigation. Resigned  Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar turned against the Turkish  leader, urging him to step down.

The scandal and ensuing feud between Erdogan and the judiciary  have reignited anti-government protests against Erdogan’s 11-year  rule within the past week.

The protesters rallying in Istanbul have shouted slogans such as   “Three ministers’ resignation is not enough, the whole  government should resign,” as well as ” corruption is  everywhere” and “resistance is everywhere,” Xinhua  reported. Continue reading “Thousands urge Turkish PM’s resignation as graft scandal shakes gov’t”

Amnesty accuses Turkey of abuse on ‘massive scale’


Human rights widely violated in Gezi Park crackdown

02 October, 20:22

(ANSAmed) – ANKARA – Amnesty International released a report Wednesday accusing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government of turning a blind eye to killings, torture, sexual abuse and persecution during the ‘brutal’ crackdown on Gezi Park protestors. The London-based organisation said human rights abuses had occurred ”on a massive scale”. Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s head expert on Turkey, spoke out against ”the wholesale denial of the right to peaceful assembly and violations of the rights to life, liberty and the freedom from torture and ill-treatment”. Hundreds of thousands of youths took part in the large anti-Erdogan protests held in June, demanding more democracy and speaking out against the re-Islamicisation of the country underway. Erdogan’s merciless crackdown had a heavy toll: six dead and 8,000 injured, ten of whom lost their sight after being hit to the head by tear gas canisters or to the face by rubber bullets shot point-blank. One 14-year-old boy is still in a coma, and some 5,000 were arrested. About 1,000 will be charged, according to press reports, some of whom for ”terrorism”. The Islamic prime minister has often lashed out at the peaceful demonstrators, calling them ”vandals” and ”terrorists”. Amnesty noted that little had been done to bring the perpetrators of abuse to justice, while thousands of protestors had instead been arrested and hundreds might have to stand trial simply for organising or taking part in a protest. Moreover, it said, journalists, doctors and lawyers who documented what happened, helped the protestors or stood up for their rights have been arrested, beaten, threatened or harassed. And despite the ”systematic abuse”, the authorities continue to praise the police, with Erdogan even calling the police efforts ”legendary”.

One of the stories Amnesty cited was that of Ethem Sarisuluk, a 22-year-old Alevi worker who was shot in the head on June 1 and died on June 14. The policeman who shot him was charged a month later only for ”manslaughter due to excessive self-defence”. Ethem’s family have said they have been subject to police pressure and intimidation to withdraw the report. Two witnesses have been arrested and Ethem’s father reported to the police for writing a protest slogan on a wall when the boy was dying. Amnesty International said that it had received reports of harassment and sexual assault by the police against those arrested, with several accounts of women threatened with rape.

It cited the cases of two girls who publicly denounced the incidents, but said that it was likely that the number of actual incidents of physical, sexual and verbal abuse was much higher than that reported.(ANSAmed).


Turkey: blasphemy; pianist Fazil Say sentenced to 10 months

20 September, 12:26

(ANSAmed) – ISTANBUL – World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison for blasphemy in April, was again sentenced to 10 months by an Istanbul court today in a retrial, Hurriyet online reports quoting Dogan News Agency.
Say had received a suspended 10-month prison sentence on charges of “insulting religious beliefs held by a section of the society,” for re-tweeting several lines, which are attributed to poet Omar Khayyam. Say’s lawyers had demanded his suspension be canceled. His demand had been accepted by the court, and the court had paved the way for Say to be re-tried.
The 19th Istanbul Peace Court sentenced Say to 10 months in prison but since Say has no criminal record, the court suspended the sentence and ordered supervised liberty. If Say does not commit another crime within two years, the case will be dropped.

Say was found guilty of ‘insulting religious values’ under article 216 of the Turkish criminal code for a few tweets in which he joked about the hasty call to prayer of a muezzin at a mosque in Istanbul – ’22 seconds ..: why such a hurry? A lover? Raki (Turkish anisette)?’. And on Islamic heaven he quoted a great Persian poet from 1100, Omar Khayyam: ‘You say rivers of wine flow in Paradise: Is it a celestial pub? And that two virgins are awaiting every believer, is Paradise a celestial brothel?’.

Three Islamic activists reported Say who was subsequently indicted by prosecutors in Istanbul.

The musician, 43, a self-proclaimed atheist and leftist, is a well-known opponent of the government of Islamist premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and one of the most renowned Turkish intellectuals. The pianist and composer is considered a’Turkish Mozart’ in Germany. Many Turkish artists and intellectuals have supported him. In a message sent after the first sentence to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Fay said freedom of expression is increasingly at risk in Turkey and the country is living through ‘a difficult period as those who try to consolidate their power exploiting religion are oppressing people’. (ANSAmed).

Turkey risks war with Assad, peace with Kurds


Erdogan deploys troops on the border, 72% Turks against attack

10 September, 12:24


(by Francesco Cerri) (ANSAmed) – ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 10 – Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just been through the negative outcome of Istanbul’s competition to host the 2020 Olympics. Now two fronts are opening up and they are both risky. Ankara is deploying troops and tanks on the border with Syria and is getting ready for a possible war against the Assad regime just as the peace process in Kurdistan is at risk. The withdrawal of PKK militants towards northern Iraq has paused.

Erdogan has sided, since the beginning of the crisis, with Syria’s Sunni rebels and against his ex ally, President Bashar al-Assad. He is one of the main supporters of US President Barack Obama’s plan for military intervention against Damascus.

The Turkish Islamic premier has said he is ready to participate in ‘any coalition’ against Assad and has been long campaigning for international intervention, not only a ‘punitive’ one of limited duration, but a major strike ‘like in Kosovo’, to topple Assad. For a week now Ankara has concentrated its efforts along the Syrian border moving men, tanks and surface-to-air Stinger missiles. The army is building a new base on Mount Kal, which dominates the Syrian Mediterranean coast of Lattakia and the ‘Alawite’ country, until the Russian base of Tartus. This part of the Mediterranean is extremely crowded with Russian, US, British, French and Iranian warships.

But the activism of the Islamic government on the Syrian front – the opposition has accused Erdogan of going as far as helping the al Qaeda-linked al Nusra Front -is not backed by the public opinion. According to a recent survey, 72% of Turkish nationals oppose military intervention against Damascus. And growing doubts concerning allegations that the regime used chemical weapons against civilians on August 21 risk to further strengthen the anti-war front. Statements by Belgian professor Pier Piccinin, who was held hostage for five months by Syrian rebels along with Italian veteran war correspondent Domenico Quirico, is boosting suggestions that rebels might have ‘provoked’ with an attack aimed at leading the international community to intervene against Damascus.

Erdogan, whose image has already been marred abroad by the brutal crackdown on anti-government protests in June – which contributed to the doomed candidature of Istanbul to host the 2020 Olympics – risks paying a very high political price with a conflict in Syria whose outcome is uncertain. The ‘sultan’ is gearing up for three high-risk local, presidential and political elections in the next 18 months. And the situation has become even more complex in the past few hours with the PKK’s decision to stop withdrawing its 3,000 militants from the Turkish territory towards northern Iraq as part of peace talks conducted with the Erdogan government by historic Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. Kurdish rebels accuse the Islamic premier od not respecting agreements. In exchange for the truce agreed in March and the withdrawal of rebels, Ankara should have implemented political and cultural reforms to guarantee more democracy and autonomy in Turkish Kurdistan and start freeing thousands of Turkish politicians, journalists, unionists and activists who are still in jail. These measures have yet to be implemented.

The PKK has now issued a warning. The truce however is still in place. At least for now. (ANSAmed)

© Copyright ANSA – All rights reserved

Turkey: ‘Erdogan not a man of his word’, PKK halts retreat

Turkish government did not respect September 1 deadline

05 September, 18:52

(ANSAmed) – ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 5 – Accusing Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan of not honoring his agreements, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Cemil Bayik announced Thursday that Kurdish rebels have suspended their retreat from Turkey to northern Iraq, local media reported.
Kurdish rebels began retreating in April as part of a negotiated deal with Turkey, which had agreed to enact far-reaching political, cultural and constitutional reforms in their favor by September 1.
”The Turkish government has still not acted. This proves they are not looking for a solution. We are interrupting the retreat,” Bayik said, adding he has been ”tricked”. Such reforms were to be a first step in ending the conflict, which has killed 30,000 people in 30 years, most of them Kurdish.
Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, held in the Imrali island prison, has been negotiating for a political solution to the conflict with the Turkish government since the end of 2012.

Turkey: poll; 35% of Turks say they are “suffering”


23 August, 13:29


(ANSAmed) – ISTANBUL, AUGUST 23 – More than one in three Turks considers themselves “suffering,” while major factors affecting their happiness levels are likely to be economic rather than political, daily Hurriyet reported citing the results of a recent poll. Gallup conducted research amid the recent anti-government protests staged in the country this year, revealing that 35% of Turks describe themselves as “suffering” and are not satisfied with their lives. Gallup classifies respondents as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering,” according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on a scale.

The same survey conducted last year showed only 18% of Turks as “suffering.” Despite the heated political environment in the country at the time of the protests, the research suggested political factors such as the growing frustration over Prime Minister Erdogan’s policies were less likely to be contributing to the rise in suffering than economic factors. The analysts reached this conclusion based on the fact that “suffering” levels among both supporters and opponents of the prime minister had risen considerably. “Among Turks who are confident in the national government, suffering increased to 30% from 12%, while suffering increased to 41% from 25% among government critics,” Gallup said. According to survey results, increasing numbers of Turks, living in large cities as well as small towns and rural areas, are struggling to finance themselves and their households. (ANSAmed).

Turkish ministry report suggests psychic assassins using telepathy could be responsible for ‘mysterious’ deaths of four young engineers

Neuropsychology expert asks government not to rule out possibility of telepathy being responsible for suicide of engineer

Rob Williams

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The deaths of four young Turkish engineers, all within the space of 14 months during 2006 and 2007, could be connected to telepathy, according to a report from the Inspection Board of the Turkish Prime Ministry.

Four engineers working for Turkish defence giant ASELSAN died in alleged mysterious circumstances and all four deaths were recorded as suicide.

Sceptical families have, however, continued to question the cases despite reports that the men had been undergoing psychological treatment before they died.

According to ‘Today’s Zaman’ the investigation into the deaths of the men, Hüseyin Başbilen, Halim Ünsem Ünal, Evrim Yançeken and Burhaneddin Volkan, suggests that the victims could have been directed toward the suicides by way of telekinesis, citing the work done by neuropsychology expert Nevzat Tarhan.

Nevzat Tarhan asks prosecutors not to disregard the possibility of telepathy being responsible for the headaches and severe distress that may have caused the men to take their own lives.

One of the men, Hüseyin Başbilen, was found dead in his car in August 2006, Halim Ünal died from a gunshot in January 2007, Evrim Yançeken fell from the balcony of his sixth-floor apartment nine days later and two years later another engineer at the company, Burhanettin Volkan, allegedly also killed himself.

At least two of the men were said to be working on a friend-or-foe recognition system for Turkish warplanes at the time of their suicides, a project that was brought back to debate during the Ergenekon coup trials which saw significant numbers jailed for an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

Hurriyet Daily News quotes Nevzat Tarhan saying that the headaches and distress in the men could have been sent using brainwaves from 1.5km (just under a mile) away.

The report, which has been submitted to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office for further investigation, doesn’t come to any conclusion over whether or not the deaths were murder or suicide.

Recently the news anchor and editor-in-chief of private Turkish broadcaster 24, Yiğit Bulut, claimed that ‘certain powers’ were attempting to kill controversial Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan using telekinesis. Mr Bulut, although widely ridiculed for the comments, has since been named a chief consultant for Erdoğan.


Life sentences for 17 ringleaders of Turkey’s ‘Deep State’ coup plot as epic trial concludes with 300 verdicts

Landmark prosecution to unravel underground ‘terrorist’ organisation Ergenekon concludes with scores of lengthy jail terms, sparking anti-government protests

Justin Vela

Monday, 5 August 2013

A Turkish court has issued heavy sentences in a long-running court case involving nearly 300 defendants accused of plotting to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The trial, which began in 2008, has marked a turning point in the battle between Turkey’s previously dominant secularist establishment whose power lay in the military, and the Islamist-leaning government established by the AKP.

17 people, including Ilker Basbug, the former head of the Armed Forces, and Dursan Cicek, a retired navy colonel were given life sentences.

The trial initially involved 86 defendants, but the case eventually grew to include 275, who were tried on what some described as scant or fabricated evidence of involvement in Ergenekon, a “deep state” organisation founded in the Turkish Armed Forces. Ergenekon was accused of links to Turkey’s mafia underworld, involvement in extra-judicial killings, and coup plots against democratically elected governments.

Sixty of the defendants received lighter sentences and 21 were acquitted, including opposition MP Mehmet Haberal.

“A lot of these people deserved to be punished,” said Cengiz Candar, a Turkish political commentator. “They got those penalties, but it is overshadowed by a lot of injustice and the harsh penalties that are contrary to good conscience.”

Turkey’s military carried out coups in 1960, 1971, 1980 and pressured the government to resign in 1997.

Many of the defendants-which include current and retired military officers, journalists, and academics-were accused of planning to create unrest to justify a military intervention against the AKP, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Their plot as described by the court included a plan to assassinate Mr Erdogan, bomb mosques, and kill minority leaders.

Establishing civilian control over the military has been a key part of Turkey’s European Union (EU) accession process.

The sentences were read in a court house in Silivri, a town located on the outskirts of Istanbul. Security forces closed roads for several miles around the courthouse, but demonstrators still attempted to march through the surrounding fields in support of the defendants.

Inside the courthouse, friends and acquaintances called out to the defendants. Family members were not allowed inside to hear the sentencing and waited for news in the field faced by hundreds of riot police.

Fidan Cagdar Balbay, 54, whose brother Mustafa was sentenced to 34 years in prison, said she received news of the trial from a journalist friend inside the court and television. “Our parents are very upset, but they are proud because they know he is innocent of what he is being accused of,” Balbay said, adding she would fight the court’s decision in the European Court of Human Rights.

In June, thousands of people in Turkey turned out for mass anti-government demonstrations against the government’s heavy-handed involvement in the lives of ordinary citizens.

But Cengiz cautioned against conflating the current anti-government sentiment with frustrations regarding the trial.

Despite the controversy over the sentences, Candar stressed that the trial was a necessary step for Turkey to move beyond its violent past. “In this country we had so many assassination and coup attempts,” he said. “And human beings did all these things.”


Egypt denies Turkish PM Gaza entry

Реджеп Тайип Эрдоган

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Photo: EPA

Egypt’s new authorities have denied Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan entry to the Gaza Strip, the local media reported on Sunday.

 According to the Al-Youm Al-Sabia Internet portal, Cairo has notified Ankara that “the visit will not take place.” In particular, it is noted that Egypt “does not want to see Erdogan for his support of Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of the Egyptian people.”

 The arrangement about Erdogan’s visit was reached during the rule of President Mohamed Morsi who was overthrown by the army on June 3 in the wake of mass popular demonstrations against the power of the Islamists. After that Ankara sharply criticised the Egyptian military, calling the removal of the elected head of state illegitimate, which naturally sparked discontent of the appointed civil authorities of Egypt. Cairo advised the Turkish side to take a balanced position and not to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs.

 Talks about the prospects of Erdogan’s tour of Gaza, where he can get only through Egyptian territory, began after March 22, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised for the seizure in May 2010 of the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, which intended to break the blockade of Gaza, bringing there a humanitarian cargo for the Palestinians.

 Initially, the visit was planned for late May, but then postponed several times, in part because of the political situation in Turkey.

 Voice of Russia, TASS

‘Retaliation Campaign’ Erdogan Punishes Protesters in Turkey

By Oezlem Gezer and Maximilian Popp

Following mass anti-government protests in Turkey, Ankara is now taking revenge on its critics. Activists and demonstrators are being investigated and intimidated, while journalists are getting fired and insubordinate civil servants transferred far afield.

Tayfun Kahraman met the prime minister five weeks ago, but now he is sitting in a hotel in Gaziantep in southeast Turkey, feeling distraught. The city is 1,150 kilometers (715 miles) from Istanbul, but less than 100 kilometers from the Syrian border. Kahraman is an urban planner and an official with the historic preservation division of the Turkish Ministry of Culture. Until recently, the 32-year-old was in Istanbul, where he led the protests against a development project in Gezi Park, which grew into mass demonstrations against the government in early June. Now he has been transferred to this provincial city as a punishment, he says. The official explanation is that there is a personnel shortage in the southeast.

“In Istanbul, my friends are being arrested and chased through the narrow streets with tear gas,” says Kahraman. “And I’m stuck here.” But he risks losing his job if he objects to the transfer. He is also receiving death threats, probably from supporters of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He scrolls through the emails on his Blackberry, which include hate-filled Twitter messages. One person wrote: “We want to see you hanging on Taksim Square.” In Istanbul, he didn’t go home for weeks. He changed hotels four times, or slept in offices and friends’ apartments — when he could sleep at all.

Until recently, Kahraman headed the conferences of a group called Taksim Solidarity, wrote press releases and was part of a group of protest leaders invited to speak with Prime Minister Erdogan in June. He also did the preparatory work for an expert report on which an Istanbul court based its decision to declare the construction project in Gezi Park illegal three weeks ago.

A ‘Retaliation Campaign’

The demolition of the park in downtown Istanbul was only the initial cause of the protests, which have continued and are now directed against the government. The protesters’ numbers have dwindled from the hundreds of thousands who had been attending the mass protests, though. Many are exhausted, but many are also afraid.

Largely unnoticed by the public, a big cleanup has begun, in which those who opposed Prime Minister Erdogan and his administration in recent weeks are now being punished. Activists are being locked up, journalists bullied and demonstrators persecuted. The Turkish parliament has deprived the chamber of architects and engineers of its voice in urban planning projects. The Turkish education ministry has ordered schools to provide it with the names of all teachers who took part in the protests, who could now face adverse consequences. “Erdogan is engaged in a retaliation campaign against his critics,” says opposition politician Ayse Danisoglu. “And he will stop at nothing to get his way.”

According to Turkish human rights organizations, the police have arrested at least 3,000 people, including children. Although some have been released, no one knows how many are still in prison.

Those arrested were primarily the leaders: activists with Taksim Solidarity, fans of the Besiktas football club, who have played a significant role in the protests, and members of opposition parties. But some people who were only marginally involved were also arrested. Most are accused of demonstrating without permits or damaging government property. Last week, security forces also raided dormitories in Istanbul and arrested dozens of students.

Locked Up for No Reason

Many, like Umut Akgül, are in prison without knowing why. A business student, Akgül had come to Istanbul from Eskisehir in northwestern Turkey to visit his parents. The family drove into the downtown area on July 6 to take part in a peaceful rally on Taksim Square, which has become the main site for protests there. As in the preceding weeks, the police used water cannons and tear gas against the protesters. Akgül fled into a building entrance, while his parents found shelter in a café. From there, Ali Akgül saw the police taking away his son. He rushed up to the officers and shouted: “That’s my boy!” But the police pushed him away. Others were also arrested, including a street vendor who was selling flags.

Akgül was taken to the police station, together with several dozen other protesters, while his parents waited all night in vain outside the police headquarters. Their son was arraigned the next day and sent to a prison in the Bayrampaa neighborhood, where he now shares a cell with murderers and rapists. His parents, who were only permitted to visit him once, say that he told them the other prisoners beat him and forced him to scrub the floor.

“No one in this country is safe anymore,” says his mother Gül Akgül. The television set in her living room is on all the time now, with images of the protests flickering across the screen. The parents are both real estate agents, but they haven’t worked since their son was arrested. They have hired an attorney, but it is still unclear what the charges against Umut Akgül are and when his trial could begin.

The parents say that their son was not active in any political group and had never attended a demonstration before. In the worst case he, like other Gezi demonstrators, could be indicted under the Turkish anti-terrorism law, known as Act Nr. 3713, on suspicion of founding a terrorist organization to overthrow the government. If convicted, he could face life in prison. Since 2005, when the government significantly expanded the anti-terrorism law, a number of Kurds, journalists, attorneys and mayors have been in prison on terrorism charges, with no prospect of a fair trail.

The arraignment judge based his decision to have Akgül detained on a surveillance video that allegedly shows the student attacking a police officer. But the person on the video is wearing a sweater, whereas Akgül was wearing a T-shirt on that day.

“There is no justice in Turkey,” says his father. “We will take our case to the European Court of Justice, if necessary.”

Police Brutality and Intimidation

When Erdogan became prime minister 10 years ago, he promised more democracy and constitutionality, and to put an end to the persecution of political opponents and police repression. But it now appears that Erdogan has adopted the methods of his predecessors. Emma Sinclair-Webb of Human Rights Watch criticizes the massive curtailing of basic rights in Turkey, saying that the government is doing nothing to investigate the excessive violence of recent weeks. On the contrary, she says, the police continue to treat peaceful demonstrators with brutality.

The week before last, a young demonstrator died in Antakya in southern Turkey. Eyewitnesses say that police officers beat him to death. He is the fifth fatality since the beginning of the Gezi protests. Close to 8,000 people have been injured, including 111 photographers and journalists who, according to the Istanbul Photography Foundation, were victims of police brutality.

Turkish journalists have suffered from repression for years. No other country in the world has as many journalists behind bars. But it wasn’t until the Gezi protests that the public became aware of how limited freedom of speech actually is. Most media organizations sided with Erdogan, and journalists whose reporting on the unrest was too positive, in the government’s opinion, have lost their jobs. Some were even arrested.

For the first time, the policy of intimidation is also directed against foreign journalists. A cameraman with the Arab Al-Jazeera network was injured, and an Italian journalist was expelled from the country. Amberin Zaman, a correspondent with the British magazine The Economist, says that she has never experienced this level of violence against journalists in her career.

Spirit of Resistance Remains

Mehmet Kacmaz, a photographer with the Turkish Nar agency, believes that the public has been alarmed by the images of police brutality, and that police have targeted journalists and photographers to stop them from producing more images.

Kacmaz documented the protests from the beginning. He recounts cases of colleagues who were beaten up, had their pictures deleted, or their cameras seized or smashed on the ground. A friend’s foot was crushed by a gas shell. “They are trying to intimidate us,” says Kacmaz.

He almost lost his left eye when he and four colleagues were taking pictures near Taksim Square two weeks ago. The police had driven away the demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets. Kacmaz was standing on the side of the street, without a helmet or a mask. He raised his hands when the police approached him. There wasn’t a single demonstrator nearby, and yet a police officer fired a rubber bullet at Kacmaz’s face. The photographer heard the sound of the gun, and then there was blood streaming over his eye. His colleagues took him to the hospital. He was blind for three days and had to have stitches on his eyelid, but has since regained his sight.

Conservative journalist Yigit Bulut is already firing up the Turks for a “war” and has said that he would “die for Erdogan.” Bulut claims that the German and British governments are behind the protests, and that they aim to weaken Turkey. “But the Turkish people will win this war.” Prime Minister Erdogan seems to share these views. He has since appointed Bulut to be his chief advisor.

But the government’s attempts to intimidate are only fueling a spirit of resistance among some people. Tayfun Kahraman, the activist who was transferred to Anatolia, has already found a new mission. A small group of environmentalists are protesting against plans to cut down the trees in a public park in Gaziantep. Kahraman paid them a visit, and offered to provide them with an expert report to file a complaint. Gezi is everywhere, even in Gaziantep.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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Turkish PM’s treason claims against BBC reporter chills other journalists

Turkish journalists see Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attack on presenter for BBC’s Turkish service as a warning to them all

Protesters take cover from water cannon

Erdogan took offence at the BBC’s coverage of anti-government protests. Photograph: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

Based in London, where she is a presenter for the BBC‘s Turkish service, until last week Selin Girit was little known in her home country. That all changed when the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accused her of treason after her coverage of the recent anti-government protests. The attack struck fear into other journalists, who believe Erdoğan – having consistently blamed the media for fanning the protests – is intent on stifling all dissent.

The campaign against Girit was launched last weekend when the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek, started tweeting aggressively against her. The BBC protested strongly against what it called government intimidation. Erdoğan was clearly unimpressed. Speaking in parliament a day later, he said Girit was “part of a conspiracy against her own country”.

Turkish journalists see the focus on Girit as a warning to them all – an example to cow the rest of them into submission. Serdar Korucu, editor of a major Turkish news outlet, said: “The prime minister is telling us, ‘Be careful what you say and do, or you can easily be next’.”

The Turkish mainstream media have ignored much of the unrest, with CNNTürk airing a documentary on penguins while the central square in Istanbul became the scene of street protests unprecedented in Erdoğan’s 10-year rule.

The public was outraged, and protests were staged in front of Turkish news outlets. Many journalists, however, were not surprised. Fatma Demirelli, managing editor of the English-language daily Today’s Zaman, explained that self-censorship had long become the norm in Turkish newsrooms. “Journalists now have a sort of split brain: on the one hand you see what the news is, but on the other you immediately try to gauge how to report it without stepping on anyone’s foot. Self-censorship has become an automatic reflex.”

Self-censorship is not new in a country that tops the world list of jailers of journalists, with 67 currently incarcerated, according to Reporters Without Borders. But it has drawn more attention during the protests around Gezi Park.

“The significant difference with the current events is that the censorship has affected a different constituency of people – middle-class Turks – rather than other groups whose causes have been more frequently subjected to censorship, such as activists advocating Kurdish rights and politics,” said Andrew Gardner, Turkey researcher for Amnesty International. “Another difference is that the events were widely covered in international media, exposing the self-censorship in mainstream Turkish media further.”

Censorship and control aside, violence and arbitrary threats against reporters trying to cover the events have also increased.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented a large number of cases of attacks on the press during the protests, including physical assault, detentions, threats and the unlawful confiscation of equipment and protective gear. Several journalists, Turkish and foreign, have sustained injuries from beatings and plastic bullets used by the police.

The organisation singled out police brutality as the biggest threat against journalists working in Turkey, saying that reporters were more at risk than they had been in two decades.

After covering a peaceful protest that was violently dispersed with tear gas and water cannon, journalist Alpbugra Bahadir Gültekin was repeatedly beaten by the police. “I told them that I was with the press, but they first insulted and then started beating me. After I fell to the ground, several officers continued to beat and to kick me,” he said.

Having recovered security camera footage of the incident, he brought charges against the police. He does not expect to be heard. “They operate in an atmosphere of impunity. But we have to start somewhere, and bring these incidents to light.”

Demirelli and Korucu agreed that Erdoğan had become a figure beyond criticism. “News stations have started to correct the prime minister’s slips of the tongue unasked, in order to be on the safe side,” Korucu said. “Nobody wants to ask uncomfortable questions, in order to keep him happy. But how can we begin to understand issues of interest if asking is not free any more?”

Demirelli said: “Journalists now always wonder if they really want to investigate, for fear that they might actually find something.”

‘I don’t recognize European Parliament’, says Erdogan

After EU criticism towards Turkey. Military repression announced

17 June, 20:25

(ANSAmed) – ANKARA – Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said he does not recognize the European Parliament, Anadolu news agency reported. This comes after an EU resolution approved last Thursday condemned police brutality in Turkey and criticized the Turkish government’s conduct in dealing with the nationwide protests that have rocked the country for two weeks. ”Does the European Parliament have the right to adopt such a decision on Turkey? I do not recognize this European Parliament”, said the embattled premier, who has been negotiating for adhesion to the EU since 2005. ”I do not recognize any decision taken by the European Parliament on Turkey”, Erdogan had said Thursday. ”The recent days’ events have been a test of our economy and our democracy, and we passed it with flying colors”, he added.

Also on Monday, Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc said the Gezi Park movement is over and threatened protesters with military repression, Hurriyet online daily reported. ”Any ongoing protests are outside the law and will be immediately repressed. Those responsible will be prosecuted”, Hurriyet cited the deputy premier as saying on TV. ”We have the police. If they’re not enough, we have the gendarmes. And if they’re not enough either, we have the army”, Arinc said.

Despite extensive news coverage of demonstrations and violence across Turkey, the country is quite calm and safe, the country’s ambassador to Italy said Monday. Hakki Akil suggested news reporting has been exaggerated to the detriment of his country. “It’s not fair to give wide coverage the situation as if there was a civil war,” Akil said outside an exhibition. The media is also unfairly focusing on demands from a few “marginal” demonstrators who say the Turkish government is undemocratic and must reform, he added. “Democratic standards in Turkey are not inferior to those of the West,” said the ambassador. For almost three weeks, protesters have gathered in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey to demonstrate against the government and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who many say has become undemocratic. In response, Erdogan has ordered riot police to crack down on demonstrators, claiming they were being manipulated by “terrorists”, the BBC is reporting. Trade unions have called a strike to protest against the police crackdown on demonstrators which has seen some 500 people arrested. Medical officials estimate that 5,000 people have been injured and at least four killed in the unrest, said the BBC. But ambassador Akil said that he recently visited Istanbul, including Taksim Square, where protests began, “and did not see anything, it was all calm”. “You can safely go in Turkey”. He also defended the widely criticized police response to the protests, saying the use of force has been “proportional”.


Protesters who return to Taksim are terrorist supporters – Turkish minister

  Published time: June 16, 2013 12:04      Edited time: June 16, 2013 12:40

Activists returning to Taksim Square will be considered “supporters or members of a terror group,” Turkey’s EU minister told local media. This comes after police bulldozed the tent camp in Gezi Park in one of the worst nights of violence in Istanbul.

“From now on the state will unfortunately have to consider  everyone who remains there a supporter or member of a terror  organization,” EU Minister Egemen Gagis said in an interview  with Turkish broadcaster AHaber on Saturday night. He requested  that all the activists returned to their homes.

“Our prime minister has already assured [activists] about  their aim with the protests. The protests from now on will play  into the hands of some separatist organizations that want to  break the peace and prioritize vandalism and terrorism,”   stressed Gagis.

PM Tayyip Erdogan, who has been the target for many of the  complaints of the protesters, appeared to take a more  compromising approach to the demonstrators on Saturday. He agreed  to postpone the reconstruction plans for Gezi Park (located  beside Taksim Square) that initially riled activists.

However, later in the evening he announced in a speech to his  supporters in the Justice and Development Party (AK) that all the  protesters must be “evacuated.”
What followed was reported by many to have been one of the most  violent nights since the unrest began two weeks ago. Riot police  moved into the Square taking on half an hour to disperse the  activists gathered there, using tear gas and carrying riot  shields.

Turkish protesters rally on John F. Kennedy street near the US Embassy in Ankara early on June 16, 2013, calling for the governemt to resign. (AFP Photo)Turkish protesters rally on John F. Kennedy street near the US Embassy in Ankara early on June 16, 2013, calling for the governemt to resign. (AFP Photo)

Clashes then began to erupt at  different spots around the city, with activists scuffling with  officers. Witnesses claimed they were chased into hotels and  accused the police of pelting them with tear gas even  there.

“They excessively use violence and tear gas against medical  personnel and injured people, they target doctors who voluntarily  support the health units healing the injured,” human rights  activist Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci informed RT  from Turkey.

Some protesters ripped up paving slabs and used debris to create  makeshift barricades to impede officers.
Meanwhile in Taksim Square bulldozers cleared away all traces of  the past two weeks of protest and police took control of the  roads leading up to the square. The governor of Istanbul  confirmed that 22 people had been taken into custody in  connection with the protests and stressed that anti-government  gatherings are banned in Taksim Square and the surrounding area.
Protesters have targeted Erdogan with their demonstrations,  alleging he has become increasingly authoritarian in his  administration of Turkey. In addition, many complain that his  party thrusts conservative Islamist values upon a secular  state.

Separately in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Sunday police  broke up a number of protesters near the Kizilay Square with  water cannons and tear gas.

Officers initially stopped a convoy of mourners as they prepared  to lay Ethem Sarisuluk, allegedly shot dead by police in a  protest, to rest.

Austin Mackell, a journalist specializing in Middle Eastern  affairs, characterized the unrest as an urban phenomenon made up  of secular Western Turks who are used to having a strong voice in  political matters. He stressed that the rise of a  Muslim-orientated government had curtailed their say in  government affairs and warned if the protesters did not unify the  movement would quickly be extinguished.

“There is a real danger that if the Gezi kids don’t get their  act together that what they’re going to do will benefit the  generals and the old-school secular authoritarians,” said  Mackel to RT.
So far over 700 people have been injured in the upheaval in  Turkey and at least five have been killed.

Erdogan: Protest ‘will be over in 24 hours’ – Published time: June 12, 2013 19:57



The Turkish Prime Minister says protests at Taksim Square and Gezi Park ‘will be over in 24 hours.’ This comes hours after Tayyip Erdogan met a group of activists, in an attempt to start dialog, and vowed to put an end to the gatherings.

“I have given orders to the interior minister,” Erdogan  said. “This will be over in 24 hours.”  Erdogan said  the protests were hurting Turkey’s image and economy.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Ruling Justice and Development Party (AK  Party) Deputy Chairman Huseyin Celik has said a referendum might  be held to decide whether to build replicas of Ottoman-era  barracks in Gezi Park or leave it as it is.

Earlier on Wednesday the Turkish Prime Minister spoke to a group  of 11 people as part of the government’s attempt to listen to the  demands of the demonstrators. The participants included artists,  academics and students, as well as the Interior Minister,  Environment and Urban Minister, Tourism and Culture Minister and  the vice chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

As the PM spoke, another group of protesters prepared to assemble  on Taksim Square, just a day after thousands of like-minded  people were driven back in a night of violence, complete with  tear gas and water cannon. The police had invaded the square  twice on Tuesday.

In the 12 days of anti-government anger, three protesters and one  policeman have lost their lives, prompting Turkey’s Human Rights  Foundation to open an investigation into excessive use of force  by the police. The number of injured stands above 5,000.

Elements within the protest camp appeared not to waiver in the  face of Erdogan’s warnings, with the Taksim Solidarity Group – an  umbrella unit representing the protestors – urging the crowds to  return to the square at 7PM. The group reiterated its earlier  demands, which included for the government to cancel plans for  destroying Gezi Park, just meters away from Taksim Square; for  police chiefs in cities with a particularly high rate of violence  against protesters to be sacked; and for the release of those  that have been detained over the 12 days.

The group of 11 people who spoke to Teyyip Erdogan included  celebrity activists too – among them a noted actress and a  singer. But the Taksim Solidarity Group has said the celebrity  connection was useless as long as police violence continued.

This handout picture released by the Turkish Prime Minister's Office shows the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Back L) speaking during a meeting with the Taksim Solidarity Platform, which includes respresentatives of Gezi park protesters, on June 12, 2013, during a meeting in Ankara (AFP Photo)This handout picture released by the Turkish Prime Minister’s Office shows the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Back L) speaking during a meeting with the Taksim Solidarity Platform, which includes respresentatives of Gezi park protesters, on June 12, 2013, during a meeting in Ankara (AFP Photo)


The country’s President, Abdullah Gul, who has been known for  being more lenient than the prime minister in the midst of the  protesting, has tried to unite the bickering sides, urging them  to open a dialog free of violence, and for the more extreme  elements in the protest to stop their anti-social behavior.

He told reporters: “I am hopeful that we will surmount this  through democratic maturity… If they have objections, we need to  hear them, enter into a dialog. It is our duty to lend them an  ear… Those who employ violence are something different and we  have to distinguish them.”

The government’s actions during the protest have aroused  criticism from European leaders – among them German Foreign  Minister Guido Westerwelle, who spoke of the Taksim chaos seen in  the pictures as “disturbing”. He said that “We expect  Prime Minister Erdogan to de-escalate the situation, in the  spirit of European values, and to seek a constructive exchange  and peaceful dialogue.”

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security  Policy for the European Union, Catherine Ashton, also opposed the  way in which the situation was handled, encouraging an  investigation into police action and criticizing the government’s  social media blockade.

Lady Ashton told reporters that “Democratically elected  governments – even the most successful of them, which have  enjoyed three election victories and have half the population’s  support – still need to take account of the needs and  expectations of those who don’t feel represented… And peaceful  demonstrations are a legitimate way for such groups to express  their views.”

People walk at Istanbul Taksim square on June 12, 2013 after a large clean-up operation removed all evidence of the unrest, clearing the square of stray tear gas canisters, anti-Erdogan banners and makeshift barricades (AFP Photo / Gurcan Ozturk)People walk at Istanbul Taksim square on June 12, 2013 after a large clean-up operation removed all evidence of the unrest, clearing the square of stray tear gas canisters, anti-Erdogan banners and makeshift barricades (AFP Photo / Gurcan Ozturk)


RT spoke to a blogger and protester who bore witness to the  events of the last 12 days. Arzu Geybulla is very skeptical of  any compromises or sudden changes expected over the next day,  given the Turkish PM’s prior promises of bringing the violence to  an end.

“If it [the government] doesn’t back down, I think it will all  turn more violent than before. One of the compromises that came  out of today’s meeting was that they’re going to hold a  referendum over the future of Gezi park – which sounds very  unrealistic and completely bizarre in the context of everything  that’ been happening.  The problem with the prime minster  and his ruling party is that they don’t back down – they  should’ve backed down the first few days and they could’ve  resolved this conflict, and they haven’t. I’m really afraid that  no compromises are going to be on the table anytime soon.”

In light of this, Geybulla added that the outcome of events in  the next 24 hours will depend solely on police action.

A pianist plays piano during an anti government demonstration in Taksim square on June 12, 2013, one day after heavy clashes with police (AFP Photo / Ozan Kose)A pianist plays piano during an anti government demonstration in Taksim square on June 12, 2013, one day after heavy clashes with police (AFP Photo / Ozan Kose)


Anti-goverment protestors unfurl the Turkish national flag in Taksim Gezi Park on June 13, 2013 in Istanbul after a large clean-up operation removed all evidence of unrest, the square cleared of of stray tear gas cannisters, anti-Erdogan banners and makeshift barricades (AFP Photo / Ozan Kose)Anti-goverment protestors unfurl the Turkish national flag in Taksim Gezi Park on June 13, 2013 in Istanbul after a large clean-up operation removed all evidence of unrest, the square cleared of of stray tear gas cannisters, anti-Erdogan banners and makeshift barricades (AFP Photo / Ozan Kose)


Demonstrators form a human chain in front of security forces at Taksim square in central Istanbul late June 12, 2013 (Reuters / Murad Sezer)Demonstrators form a human chain in front of security forces at Taksim square in central Istanbul late June 12, 2013 (Reuters / Murad Sezer)

Violence of security forces in Taksim Square ‘unprecedented’ says Amnesty International

Demonstrators stockpiling face masks and goggles to protect against tear gas, and rebuilding barricades that have been destroyed

Richard Hall

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square are preparing for further clashes with police, as a leading rights group criticised an “unprecedented” use of violence by security forces.

An uneasy calm was present throughout the day in the square and in Gezi Park — where the protests began nearly two weeks ago over the government’s proposed redevelopment of the area.

Demonstrators in the park itself were stockpiling face masks and goggles to protect against tear gas, and rebuilding barricades that had been destroyed by police overnight. A few hundred police were gathered in groups around the square with mobile water canons standing nearby.

Around 1,000 people were injured, according to doctors, as police moved in to clear the square on Tuesday afternoon, firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets. The clashes continued into the early hours of the morning, both in the park and in the side streets surrounding the square, as a small number of protesters responding with fireworks.

Amnesty International harshly criticised the use of excessive violence by police overnight, and blamed the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for inciting protesters.

“Never has there been a time when police violence was this widespread and this sustained. It is unprecedented,” Andrew Gardner, the group’s Turkey researcher, told The Independent.

“Police have been using tear gas as a punitive measure, rather than for crowd dispersal as it is intended. There have been cases where police are firing directly at protesters, causing serious head injuries. They are also firing tear gas into buildings, which can be very dangerous.”

He added: “The violence we saw [on Tuesday] was a direct result of inflammatory statements made by him.”

The protests that have been taking place in Istanbul and other cities across Turkey started as a small demonstration against plans to build an Ottoman style shopping centre in Taksim Square, but it has grown into a wider movement uniting  those opposed to what they perceive as the authoritarian rule of Mr Erdogan, who had earlier predicted that the protests would end within 24 hours.

“I have given orders to the interior minister,” Mr Erdogan reportedly said yesterday afternoon after a meeting with Turkey’s shopkeepers’ union. “This will be over in 24 hours,” he said, adding that no young protesters would should be harmed.

Many of the protesters also share a concern that Mr Erdogan is imposing an Islamist agenda on a country that has traditionally been secular — although most of the population is Muslim.

In one of few concilatory moves made by Mr Erdogan since the protests began, the prime minister was due to meet with representatives of group’s opposed to Gezi Park’s redevelopment. But members of the Taksim Solidarity campaign group who spoke to The Independent said the 11-person delegation chosen to meet Mr Erdogan was not representative of the protesters.

Taking a softer tone than Mr Erdogan, meanwhile, Turkey’s president Abdullah Gul appeared to concede that it was time for the government to engage with its critics, but also condemned violent protesters.

“If people have objections… then to engage in a dialogue with these people, to hear out what they say is no doubt our duty,” Gul told reporters, according to Reuters. “Those who employ violence are something different and we have to distinguish them… We must not give violence a chance… This would not be allowed in New York, this would not be allowed in Berlin.”

Even as Mr Erdogan has begun to show signs that he is searching for a solution to the ongoing demonstrations, the number of protesters has been buoyed by people angry at the violent response by police.

In a makeshift hospital in the north corner of the park this afternoon, doctors reported seeing wounds caused by rubber and plastic bullets, head injuries as a result of tear gas canisters being fired directly at protesters, and severe breathing difficulties caused by the gas itself.

The first aid centre is staffed by around 15 volunteer doctors, as well as some medical students and volunteers. Among them are brain surgeons, GPs and orthopedics, most of whom said they were apolitical.

The small corner of Gezi Park was a hive of activity as the volunteers prepared the space to receive injured protesters they anticipated would be arriving shortly.

One doctor, who refused to give her name for fear of reprisals, claimed many volunteer medical staff had been detained at their homes for treating wounded protesters.

“We think police have been coming to the park wearing civilian clothes to take pictures of the doctors,” said the doctor, who works as a GP in Istanbul.

“We are scared to leave the park on our own now. The police are trying to intimidate us.”

In Ankara and Istanbul, thousands of lawyers railed against what they described as the rough treatment of their colleagues, dozens of whom were briefly detained by police in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Sema Aksoy, the deputy head of the Ankara lawyer’s association, said the lawyers were handcuffed and pulled over the ground.

“Lawyers can’t be dragged on the ground!” the demonstrating lawyers shouted as they marched out of an Istanbul courthouse.


Erdogan of Turkey crosses the Rubicon, adopts hard line against demonstrators (Warning Graphic Includes Death)

Turkey: police occupy Taksim, Erdogan adopts hard line

Premier attacks, we will cut Gezi Park trees

11 June, 19:50

(ANSAmed) – ANKARA, JUNE 11 – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has adopted a hard line against demonstrators who have been protesting against him for two weeks. On Tuesday , police regained control of Taksim square in Istanbul, which had been occupied by Turkish activists for ten days, after violent clashes with groups of demonstrators.

During the night new incidents were reported in Ankara, in the Alawite district of Gazi in Istanbul and in other cities.

In a speech to the parliamentary group of his Islamic AKP party on Tuesday Erdogan said the trees of Gezi Park would be cut. The unrest began two weeks ago after a crackdown on a protest against the park’s redevelopment. The premier once again accused financial lobbies and the foreign media of attacking the country.

Hundreds of anti-riot police stormed Taksim square at dawn Tuesday with tanks, water cannons and tear gas. Hundreds of demonstrators patrolling the square withdrew into adjoining Gezi Park. A few groups hurled stones and Molotov cocktails against police. Injuries and arrests were reported.

Several demonstrators claimed police deployed in the square included officers instigating violence. Later, bulldozers started to dismantle barricades set up in the past few days.

A group of protesters had gathered every day in Taksim square and Gezi Park – which has been turned into a libertarian citadel – ever since police withdrew on June 1. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Turkey asking Erdogan to step down.

The premier confirmed on Tuesday that four people, three demonstrators and a policeman, died since the beginning of the unrest. According to the national doctors’ association, 5.000 demonstrators have been injured. The violent repression operated by Turkish police has been criticized worldwide.

Many are awaiting the protest movement’s response.

Yesterday Erdogan, in an apparent move to promote a detente, announced he would meet today with representatives of the protest movement against the destruction of Gezi Park.

The Turkish economy is suffering from the unrest. Part of foreign capitals invested in the country are being withdrawn and the Borsa Istanbul lost over 10% last week, burning one billion dollars. The central bank had to intervene to support the lira which fell to its lowest level compared to the dollar since October 2011. (ANSAmed)

Turkey protest turns Massive – Besiktas, Galatasaray, Fenerbahce… fans join forces



Saturday, 08 June 2013


Turkish media reports this evening that history is being written at the Taxim square in Istanbul, after more than 170,000 protesters joined the 20,000 protesters already at the square.

Certainly not a good sign for Turkish PM Erdogan when the opposing fans of Istanbul’s biggest football clubs joined forces together.

Media reports the fans of Galatasaray, Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Trabzonspor, Bursaspor and others joined together to protest what is believed excessive police force against protesters, but also the rapid islamization of Turkey.

It’s the 8th day since the protests started. It all started after the Government decided to remove a downtown park, and in its place build a shopping center and a mosque.

Despite Erdogan’s calls for end to the protests, today showed they are only intensifying.

Turkey: protest spreads to Northern Cyprus


Students in Turkish-occupied sector rally against Erdogan

04 June, 17:22


(ANSAmed) – NICOSIA, JUNE 4 – The violent anti-government protests ongoing in several Turkish cities spread on Saturday to Northern Cyprus, which has been under Turkish occupation since 1974.

Proclaimed unilaterally in 1983, the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is recognized solely by Ankara. Turkish-Cypriot TV broadcast footage of hundreds of mostly student protesters in various parts of Lefkosa, the Turkish-occupied sector of Nicosia, and in the coastal cities of Famagosta, Kerynia and Morphou. Students gathered at the Turkish embassy in Lefkosa, chanting slogans against Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and in solidarity with protesters in Turkey.

”Best wishes from Cyprus, Nicosia and Taksim Square side by side against fascism”, they shouted.

Turkish-Cypriot police cordoned the embassy off and clashed briefly with demonstrators. There were no reported injuries.



Turkey: ‘sultan’ Erdogan trips over 600 trees


‘People of Ataturk’ against Islamic premier’s absolute power

03 June, 19:46


(by Francesco Cerri) (ANSAmed) – ANKARA, JUNE 3 – ‘Erdogan is not all-powerful’ observes, almost with surprise, Hurriyet’s analyst Murat Yetkin.

A protest which began as a demonstration against the destruction of 600 trees in Gezi Park in Taksim, in the heart of European Istanbul, which was unilaterally decided by the local government controlled by the Islamic AKP party of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has become a mass movement which has brought to the streets hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens.

They are the ‘secular people’ of the founding father of the modern republic in 1923 , Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, over the ruins of the Islamic empire. They are now unexpectedly shaking the authoritarian government of ‘sultan’ Erdogan, who has been ruling without rivals since 2002. For the first time in 11 years, he was forced in just a few hours to recant his position. At midday he challenged tens of thousands of demonstrators in Taksim announcing that ‘police will remain today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow’. Two days later, confronted with rage on the streets, the spreading uprising across Turkey, protests from abroad over police brutality, and the intervention of head of state Abdullah Gul, the ‘sultan’ changed stance. He recalled police and admitted ‘excesses’, promising an investigation. Ever since then, in spite of statements that remain muscular, he has been looking for a way out. He sent Istanbul’s mayor to talk to the demonstrators. But the country is now aware that the power of the most powerful premier since Ataturk is not unlimited. After many humiliations, secular Turkey, which was ousted from power 11 years ago, appears to have decided to take matters into its hands and take to the streets. According to polls, Erdogan would still win from 40 to 50% of the vote. The year 2014 will be one of local, national and presidential elections.

Erdogan wants to become head of state with a constitutional reform giving him sweeping powers. But his electorate is not monolithic. There are religious voters, the great masses of Anatolia who are proud of an Islamic government which has given them a voice. But there is also a part of the electorate who voted for him because he has given stability to the country since 2002, tripling pro-capita income and turned Turkey into the 17th world economy. However, these voters are not ready to give up on a secular state in favour of an Islamic republic. The disastrous management of the protests has acted as a detonator.

Erdogan ‘shot himself on the foot’, said analyst Sule Kulu. The premier ‘did what the opposition was unable to do in years’, he said, ‘he created a new opposition, formed by different groups of the population, including those who fully supported him in the past’.

In the third legislature in power since June 2011, the premier has adopted an increasingly authoritarian stance, promoting an Islamic society. Bans dating back to the Ataturk era on, among other things, the Islamic veil, fell one after the other, mosques are being built everywhere, the Ottoman past is being reevaluated and progress is being made towards the approval of Islamic-inspired laws changing people’s lifestyles.

The latest restrictions on alcohol were the last drop. There is also the Syrian crisis with Erdogan firmly siding with Sunni rebels against his former Alawite friend Bashar al-Assad while the country was asking him to remain neutral. The war is now threatening Turkey. As in the case of the Arab Springs, what sparked the revolt against Erdogan, according to political analyst Emre Uslu, is that secularists lost hope of ousting him from power through the vote. And they fear this will lead to a ‘re-Islamization’ of the country. The opposition now recalls how Erdogan used to say 20 years ago that democracy is like a bus, you get out of it when you want. (ANSAmed)

© Copyright ANSA – All rights

Turkish protesters control Istanbul square after two days of clashes: While Citizens Protest Turkish media Media Airs Cooking Shows

Demonstrations pose biggest challenge yet to prime minister and expose government influence over media

    • Constanze Letsch in Istanbul
    •,   Sunday 2 June 2013 12.30 EDT

Taksim Square

Turkish protesters gather in Taksim Square, Istanbul, on Sunday. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Turkish protesters controlled Istanbul’s main square again on Sunday after two days of violent clashes with rampaging riot police, despite being dismissed as an “extremist fringe” by the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The demonstrations have been the biggest popular challenge to the prime minister after a decade in power, and serve as a setback for his ambitions to extend his powers.

What started last Monday as a relatively small, peaceful protest to save an inner city park from having to make way for a kitschy, Ottoman-style shopping centre rapidly snowballed into the largest and most violent anti-government protests that Turkey has seen in years.

Hundreds sustained injuries, some serious, as a result of the heavy-handed police intervention and the excessive use of teargas. Riot police withdrew from the capital on Saturday evening, handing victory to the demonstrators.

The protests spread across the country like wildfire, to half of the country’s 81 provinces, according to the interior ministry. It added that 939 people had been arrested in 90 demonstrations and protests all over the country, while damage costs have not yet been announced.

“Erdogan does not listen to anyone any more,” said Koray Caliskan, a political scientist at Istanbul’s Bosphorus University. “Not even to members of his own party. But after the protests this weekend, he will have to accept that he is the prime minister of a democratic country, and that he cannot rule it on his own.”

The dramatic events in Istanbul and other Turkish cities also exposed the complicity and almost complete government control of mainstream Turkish media, which largely failed to report on the protests.

“The Turkish media have embarrassed themselves,” Caliskan said. “While the whole world was broadcasting from Taksim Square, Turkish television stations were showing cooking shows. It is now very clear that we do not have press freedom in Turkey.”

Human rights groups have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the lack of freedom of expression in Turkey, and Erdogan routinely criticises media outlets and journalists who do not agree with his views and those of his ruling Justice and Development party (AKP).

Opposition party figures urged Erdogan to listen to people instead of trying to silence them.

“After 1 June, the policy of ‘for the people despite the people’ is bankrupt. [The government] will have to listen to the people’s opinions on mega-projects. Now is the time of participatory decision-making,” said Hasip Kaplan, an MP of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party (BDP).

Despite opposition from urban planners and environmentalists, the AKP government is pushing ahead with a number of huge construction projects that include a third bridge over the Bosphorus, a third airport and a giant mosque.

Caliskan thinks these plans might have to be buried or at least altered after the protests this weekend, along with the AKP’s recent plans to restrict alcohol consumption, ban abortion and install an Erdogan-led presidency in Turkey.

The prime minister’s key political project is to enact a new constitution, making the government system presidential rather than parliamentary. After 10 years as prime minister, his aim is to become Turkey’s first directly elected president with strong executive powers.

He may have hurt his chances of seeing that happen this weekend.

“Erdogan’s dream of a presidency is over,” said Caliskan, “as is the myth of his invincibility. The last five days have shown that he cannot simply ignore the people who criticise him.”

Other analysts underline that the Turkish prime minister is still one of Turkey’s most popular politicians, and stress that while his image of being all-powerful may have been tarnished by this weekend’s events, the ruling AKP benefits from the absence of a coherent and strong opposition to challenge him at the ballot box.

Erdogan’s response to the challenge was aggressive rhetoric in three speeches on Saturday and Sunday. But he also de-escalated by having the columns of riot police abandon Taksim Square, allowing the demonstrators to revel in a street party.

Simultaneously, though, there were very violent scenes in the waterfront district of Besiktas late on Saturday and reports of violence in Ankara on Sunday.

The contest appears far from over. Erdogan unapologetically refused to back down on the development project that triggered the protests – the demolition of the city centre park to make way for a shopping centre, mosque and a replica of an old military barracks.

“I am not going to seek the permission of [the opposition] or a handful of plunderers,” he said. “If they call someone who has served the people a ‘dictator’, I have nothing to say. My only concern has been to serve my country … I am not the master of the people. Dictatorship does not run in my blood or in my character. I am the servant of the people.”

Erdogan – Turkey will say goodbye to EU

Sunday, 03 February 2013
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that Turkey “will say goodbye to the EU”.

While governments of the EU member states fear that  they would have to face dissatisfaction of their voters if they  supported Turkey’s EU accession, Vienna-based daily Die Presse writes  Turkey’s membership could bring economic and geopolitical benefits.

Ankara appears to be frustrated with the lack of  progress on the EU pathway and Erdogan recently said that Turkey “will  say goodbye to the EU”.

Die Presse writes that the entire case has turned  into a moral test of the Austrian daily politics and the local public  that is rather nervous about having Turkey in the EU.

Negotiations between the EU and Turkey officially  started in 2007 but were suspended last year because of Cyprus. Turkey  does not recognize Cyprus, which is an EU member state, and thus  automatically does not recognize the European law, i.e. the so-called  acquis communautaire which practically means it cannot join the EU, Die  Presse writes.

In reality, numerous European governments, including  the Austrian government, are quite happy with the situation. They  believe that if Turkey started to cooperate regarding the Cyprus issue  they would have to deal with their own voters and it would be a battle  they could not win, Austrian media say.

Erdogan said that Turkey would look to the Shanghai  Cooperation Organization if the EU did not want to allow the country to  become a member.

Turkey has a status of “dialogue partner” in the  Russia and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The organization has managed to maintain its character of a security and geostrategic  cooperation.

According to Austrian media, it is debatable how  Russia and China would react if Turkey, a NATO member, became a  full-fledged member in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Die Presse criticized the EU’s inability to recognize the benefits of the Turkish membership, bearing in mind that the  country had a high economic and geopolitical growth.

According to the daily, the EU could give Turkey a  status of a “privileged partner” but Erdogan stressed last year that it  was out of the question and that Turkey would only accept to be a  full-fledged EU member.

Turkish warplanes strike PKK targets in N. Iraq – media

Tue, 15 Jan 2013 16:38 GMT


ISTANBUL, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Turkish warplanes have attacked militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq in the first such attacks since details emerged of talks between the state and the rebels’ jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, media reports said.

Broadcaster CNN Turk said several jets attacked PKK forces in areas of northern Iraq on Sunday in the first operation in 12 days and struck again on Monday evening. It did not identify a source for the report, which could not immediately be confirmed.

Turkey using anti-terrorism law to quash debate -UN : ” has jailed more reporters than Iran, China or Eritrea “

Thu, 1 Nov 2012 15:43 GMT

Source: reuters

* UN experts review Turkey’s rights record, anti-terror law

* Decry high number of prosecutions of activists, journalists

* Govt says right to lawyer guaranteed, torture not tolerated

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Turkey is using a vague counterterrorism law to prosecute many activists, lawyers and journalists, often holding them for long pre-trial periods without access to a lawyer, United Nations human rights experts said on Thursday.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee said after reviewing Turkey’s record for the first time that the right to due process is sharply curbed under its 1991 Anti-Terrorism Law and that some of its provisions are incompatible with international law.

“We’re worried about the vagueness of the definition of the terrorist act in the 1991 law and the very far-reaching, unacceptable restrictions on the right of due process for accused people and the high number of cases in which human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and even children are charged under the anti-terrorism law,” Michael O’Flaherty, committee vice-chairman, told a news briefing.

He added: “Not for terrorism, but for the free expression of their opinions and ideas, in particular in the context of non-violent discussion of the Kurdish issue.”

Almost 100 journalists are in prison as well as thousands of activists, lawyers, politicians, military officers and others. Most are accused of plots against the government or support for outlawed Kurdish militants.

The U.N. committee, composed of 18 independent experts, examined the records of five countries, including Turkey, in upholding fundamental civil and political rights.

During the debate, they voiced concern about Turkey’s anti-terror law’s restriction of access to a lawyer for the first 24 hours when they said the risk of torture was the highest.

Erdogan Iscan, director-general of Turkey’s foreign ministry, said the Anti-Terror Law allowed authorities to protect the public and ensure a swift judicial process. It was in accordance with international human rights treaties.

The right to contact a lawyer was an absolute right and authorities had a policy of zero-tolerance to torture, he said.

The experts urged Turkey to bring its laws into line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a landmark U.N. pact ratified by 147 states including Turkey.

“Detainees do not have access to an effective mechanism to challenge the lawfulness of their pre-trial detention and do not always in practice have prompt access to a lawyer,” they said.

Activists and journalists are prosecuted under provisions including a ban on criticising the military, they said.

The watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists says Turkey has jailed more reporters than Iran, China or Eritrea.

Although Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan won a third term last year, many secular Turks fear his socially conservative AK Party has Islamist tendencies that threaten the secular republic. There is growing criticism of his authoritarian style of rule.

Jailed Kurdish militants on hunger strike may start to die within the next 10 days, Turkey’s main medical association warned, saying the prime minister’s dismissal of the protest as a “show” risked hardening their resolve.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Myra MacDonald)–un/

Turkish government authorises raids against Syria

Fears of major conflict grow as parliament approves ‘deterrent’ measures in wake of cross-border incident on Wednesday

  • Martin Chulov in Beirut
  • The Guardian, Thursday 4 October 2012 14.18 EDT
Turkish parliament

Turkey‘s parliament has given legal authority to the military to launch cross-border raids into Syria in response to Wednesday’s deadly mortar strikes that killed five civilians and edged the two former allies closer to a big conflict.

Claiming that the move was only a deterrent against Syrian strikes, the legislature voted to authorise the Turkish military to cross into Syria at any time during the next year. The vote was passed 320-129.

Ankara claims to have received an apology from the Syrian regime on Thursday, relayed by the UN, and an assurance that such an incident would not occur again.

The moves followed a day of high tension on the restive frontier and at least 12 hours of artillery fire from southern Turkey at targets deep inside north Syria.

Observers outside the country who had spoken to activists in Tal Abiyad, about nine miles from the border, claimed an unknown number of Syrian soldiers had been killed by the Turkish fire and that others had withdrawn from their bases.

As the shellfire ceased shortly after sunrise Thursday, officials in Ankara announced that the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would turn to parliament for the same sort of legal backing that underpinned the country’s operations against Kurdish groups in north Iraq.

Erdogan’s motion said the shelling had been “on the threshold of an armed attack” and was a “serious threat to Turkish national security”.

The statement said: “As part of the military operations being conducted by the Syrian Arab republic armed forces, starting from [20 September] aggressive actions have been directed against our country’s territories too. These actions have continued despite our repeated warnings and diplomatic initiatives.

“Therefore, the need has developed to act rapidly and to take necessary precautions against additional risks and threats that may be directed against our country.”

Besir Atalay, the deputy prime minister, later said: “The bill is not for war. It has deterrent qualities.”

On Thursday Turkey moved troops and armour to the area near the town of Akcakale, which had been hit, late Wednesday afternoon, by at least two shells fired from Syria. Officials said radar tracks had shown that the firing point was about six miles inside Syria, near a military base used by regime troops.

The Syrian strike was roundly condemned by Nato, of which Turkey is a member state, as well as the UN and US.

Russia, a staunch ally of Damascus and backer of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, in the uprising, said it had asked its ally to explain what had happened and to apologise for any “mistake”.

Atalay later claimed to have received the indirect Syrian apology. There was no immediate comment from Damascus.

Both countries had edged towards conflict in the summer when a Turkish jet was downed by a missile fired from Tartous, in Syria. On that occasion, Turkey invoked the Nato treaty that can require the powerful security body to defend a member state under attack. Ankara did not retaliate at the time but said it would do so against future provocations.

Syria has accused Turkey of arming and sheltering the Free Syria army, its main adversary in the now blazing civil war. Syrian officials brand the rebel forces terrorists and say they are backed by foreign powers.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Nato’s chief, reiterated to the Guardian on Monday that Nato would not support a Libya-style military intervention in Syria. “Syria is a very, very, complex society. Foreign military interventions could have broader impacts.”

An urgent meeting of Nato ambassadors hours after the Syrian strike produced a strongly worded statement condemning Damascus, but offered no hint that its anti-intervention stance had changed.

“The alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law,” it said.

Meanwhile, close to 100 people were reported to have died across Syria on Thursday as fighting continued to rage in most parts of the country.

The popular uprising, inspired by the Arab spring, which by earlier this year had morphed into an intensive armed insurrection, has now claimed in excess of 30,000 lives and shows no signs of abating.

Aleppo and Damascus are battle zones, as are most secondary cities and towns. The deteriorating situation in Syria poses an ever increasing risk to neighbouring states, including Turkey, which is already battling an insurgency led by restive Kurdish groups in Iraq and Syria.