CHP’s Ankara candidate vows to defend votes as police crack down on protest

1st April 2014 – ore than two days have passed since the end of the March 30 elections, but tension over counting and the victors remains latent, with anger over alleged electoral fraud in Ankara spreading to points around the country. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) appealed to district election boards of Ankaraover irregularities in the local mayoral elections in which the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) incumbent won a narrow victory.

“We will not let any votes of the people of Ankara be wasted. We’ll follow the votes given for us until the end,” Mansur Yavaş, the CHP candidate for Ankara mayor, said in a press conference Apr. 1 noting that his party did not believe the election was fair. Apart from Ankara, the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) appealed the votes in three provinces, Iğdır, Kastamonu and Kütahya, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) appealed for a recount of votes in Istanbul’s Kartal district. The main opposition party also demanded a recount in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district.

In Ankara, some votes given to the CHP were included in the records of the ballot boxes of other parties, while some CHP votes were not recorded at ballot boxes, Mansur said, adding that around 12,000 ballot boxes were being examined one by one with the help of at least 500 600 young volunteers.

Continues: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/police-use-water-cannons-as-protesters-denounce-vote-rigging-allegations-in-ankara-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=64391&NewsCatID=338

Opposition ballots found in trash bags in southern Turkey

Photo from DHA

Photo from DHA

1st April 2014 – Used ballots, marked for the main opposition Republican  Peoples’ Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have been  found in the garbage of six schools used as polling stations in the southern  province of Osmaniye. City residents reported the incident to the police when they found the used  ballots in the trash in Osmaniye’s Düziçi district. According to reports, the schools where the ballots were found are the Uzunbanı Elementary School, Atatürk High School, Atatürk Elementary School, Cumhuriyet High School, Cumhuriyet Elementary School and ÇEAŞ Anatolian High School. It was claimed that the ballots were planned to be burned. Candidates from the CHP and MHP have filed an official complaint to the Public Prosecutors’ Office and have appealed to the Supreme Election Council (YSK). The Düziçi Police Department has launched an investigation into the incident. The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate Ökkeş Namlı won in the Düziçi district with 10,294 votes. The CHP’s Alper Öner received 9,854 votes, while the MHP’s Muhammet Kaya received 5,179 votes.

From: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opposition-ballots-found-in-trash-bags-in-southern-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nID=64390&NewsCatID=338

 

‘Twitter, Mtwitter!’: Turkish Prime Minister’s 9 Craziest Quotes About Social Media

28th March 2014 – Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan really doesn’t like social media. Days before the municipal elections, the Turkish strongman has blocked Twitter and banned YouTube after corruption allegations surfaced on the two social media platforms. Here are some of Erdoğan’s best quotes about social media — from the “scourge” that is Twitter, to the case of the “smeared housewife.”

Erdogan

 

Continuous: http://mashable.com/2014/03/28/quotes-turkey-erdogan-social-media/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link

Turkey moves to block YouTube access after ‘audio leak’

27th March 2014 – Turkey has moved to block access to YouTube, a day after a court ordered the suspension of a ban on Twitter, which PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan backed. The telecoms authority (TIB) said it had taken an “administrative measure” against the site but another report suggests that talks are under way. Some users found access blocked while others could still use the site. Earlier, what appeared to be a leaked audio recording of Turkish officials discussing Syria appeared on YouTube.

It relates to a discussion of possible military operations in Syria, which was apparently attended by Turkey’s intelligence chief, its foreign minister and the deputy head of the armed forces. Reuters news agency, which examined the recording, said it could not verify its authenticity but it was potentially the most damaging purported leak so far as it appeared to have originated from the bugging of a highly confidential and sensitive conversation. Mr Erdogan, who faces important local elections on Sunday, accuses social media of spreading misinformation and suggested earlier that bans could be applied to both YouTube and Facebook. At a rally this week, Mr Erdogan was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying: “I don’t understand how people of good sense could defend this Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There are all kinds of lies there.” On Wednesday, a court in the capital, Ankara, ordered the TIB to lift its ban on Twitter, but it could be weeks before the order takes effect. Twitter itself has filed a challenge to the access ban. It said it was concerned about a court order to suspend an account which accused a former minister of corruption.

 

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26773702

 

 

‘Minority groups face increasing discrimination in Turkey’

20 March 2014 by MELTEM Naz Kaso, İstanbul (Today’s Zaman)

Despite March 21 being both the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the start of the Nevruz festival, which marks the first day of spring and has been celebrated by people from diverse ethnic communities and religious backgrounds for thousands of years, some prominent voices in Turkey have used the occasion to tell Today’s Zaman that discrimination is increasing against those who do not practice Sunni Islam or identify as ethnic Turks.

Aren, a Christian of Armenian heritage in his 30s, says that on one occasion, when he was exercising at the gym, some people opened windows soon after he started running and said that “the room had started to smell like an Armenian.” Another man of Aren’s age referred to a dumbbell as being “as heavy as an unbeliever’s dead body.” He tells Today’s Zaman that this is far from being the most severe incident he has experienced in Turkey in terms of discrimination due to his ethnicity and religion. He could well be right. Other prominent incidents of racial and religious discrimination — such as the murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was killed outside his office, and three Christians who were brutally murdered at the Zirve publishing house in Malatya — reveal that intolerance can be deadly.

On paper, Turkey has taken significant steps to fight against discrimination. After the long-running public debates over the implementation of a “democracy package” — an initiative to extend rights to Turkey’s disadvantaged minorities — hate crime entered the Turkish statute books for the first time in December 2013. Hate and prejudice crimes are defined as “crimes committed against someone or some group based on their language, race, nationality, skin color, gender, disability, political views, philosophical beliefs or religion.” Yet, unlike the preferred definition of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), it lacks criteria based on ethnicity and sexual orientation. In addition, the largest ethnic minority in Turkey, the Kurds, are not specifically included in the regulation.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) issued a public declaration in January 2014 to draw attention to these gaps in Turkey’s hate crime legislation. So far, no subsequent changes have taken place.

Erdal Doğan, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the Zirve murder case, thinks that the problem of ethnic and racial discrimination is deeply rooted in Turkey and will not be resolved soon. “Since the founding of the Turkish Republic, our country had been built according to the concept of ‘oneness.’ To ‘Turkify’ everyone, governments normalized hate speech and did not recognize ethnic or religious differences,” Doğan tells Today’s Zaman. According to the lawyer, the goal of such policies was to label as an enemy all those who were not Sunni Muslim Turks.

From: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-342607-minority-groups-face-increasing-discrimination-in-turkey.html

Tagged Hrant Dink, Nevrus festival, Zirve murder case, ethnic and racial discrimination

The Sick man of Turkey

16th March 2014 – By . The Turkish Medical Association (TTB, or “Türk Tabipleri Birliği” in Turkish) released a statement Saturday passing considerable judgment on PM’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s controversial reactions over the past year. For those familiar with events since the start of the nationwide anti-government protests of 2013, the 60-year-old independent trade union — covering 80% of Turkey’s medical professionals, & recognized by the World Medical Assoc. — just questioned the mental health of the Turkish prime minister. The full English translation of their 15 March press release reads as follows:

WE ARE WORRIED ABOUT PRIME MINISTER ERDOĞAN’S EMOTIONAL STATE!
“The interest lobby provoked the Gezi events.”
“They drunk alcohol in the Dolmabahçe Mosque.”
“They attacked my headscarved sisters.”

We, as doctors, have been watching with anxiety the polarisation, the marginalisation, and divisive rhetoric Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been using since the Gezi resistance. We were terrified when we listened to what he said about Berkin Elvan at the Gaziantep election rally yesterday. Normally, nobody would try to steer two families who lost their children against each other. Normally, nobody would declare a child aged fifteen who was hit in the head [with a teargas canister] by the police on his way to buy bread and who died after fighting for his life for 269 days, a terrorist. Normally, nobody would distort the truth about marbles put in a child’s grave and call them “steel balls.” Normally, nobody would get a mother — who lost her child only two days ago — booed at an election rally. We are doctors. We know about thousands of different states of mind and the emotional states of a human being. We are worried about Prime Minister Erdoğan’s emotional state. We are extremely worried. We are worried for him, for the people around him, and for our country. We are sharing our concern with the public. – The Central Committee of the Turkish Medical Association
In other words, (if the EU or U.S. are watching) the most authoritative medical body in the land just affirmed what at least 50% of Turkey already believes: that the emperor has no clothes.

From: http://istanbuldispatches.com/2014/03/16/the-sick-man-of-turkey/