Turkey fell two places to the 98th spot on the 2014 Democracy Index compiled by the Economist magazine’s Intelligence Unit, and it is sliding toward an authoritarian regime under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the report says.
According to the index, Turkey is continuing to drop in rankings and the deterioration in its score last year was outstripped by Libya and Thailand.
The report says, “Erdoğan’s election as president in 2014 poses a new threat to Turkey’s democratic institutions,” and added that the regression reflects the “continuing fraying of the social, political and institutional fabric as Turkey becomes steadily more polarized under the increasingly unchecked rule of Erdoğan.”
Pointing out that the Turkish Constitution necessitates that the president be “apolitical” and depicts the presidency as a “largely ceremonial role,” the report stresses that Turkey’s president is “neither of these.”
The report states Turkey is a long way from the “authoritarian regime” category; however, it adds that the “current momentum in that direction is a cause for grave concern.”
Turkey is ranked 98 out of 167 countries, sharing its ranking with Lebanon, according to the report, which ranks countries according to election processes, pluralism, government functions, political participation, political cultures and fundamental freedoms. The countries are given scores on a 10-point scale, with “full democracies” scoring between eight and 10 and “authoritarian regimes” scoring below four.
Turkey’s score, 5.7 — categorizing it as a “hybrid regime,” comes before Kenya and after Venezuela.
While Turkey received a score of 5.12 in its electoral process and pluralism, it only scored 3.53 in civil liberties in 2014.
According to the report, Turkey’s slide down the index is not much of a surprise, as the nationwide Gezi Park protests in 2013 and Erdoğan’s onslaught against Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen in 2014 indicated that democratic values were slipping in Turkey.
The report highlights that Erdoğan is consolidating his position as an “unrivalled political giant.” It stresses that, while doing so, he “repeatedly weakened the rule of law and fostered a corrosively majoritarian democratic culture.”
It says significant concerns regarding polarization in the country and the allocation of powers emerged after Erdoğan’s election triumph in the August presidential elections, and provides two examples.
“The first of these [examples] was the polarizing tone of Mr Erdoğan’s campaign, which explicitly relied on a rhetoric of ‘us’ (his supporters) and ‘them’ (everyone else), and which more subtly intimated that the latter group was, en masse, opposed not just to Mr Erdoğan and to his party, but to democracy itself,” the report said in reference to concerns that resulted from the August elections, adding that his narrative suggests that opposing him is to support coups and unaccountable “parallel” powers within the state.
The term “parallel state” was invented by Erdoğan to refer to sympathizers of the faith-based Gülen movement (Hizmet movement), whom he sees as responsible for the Dec. 17 graft probe which involved some ministers and their sons as well as businessmen and bureaucrats.
The report suggests that Erdoğan’s campaign was based on whipping up fears of an imminent slide back into those darker days during the coup-eras and that it has needlessly “set back Turkey’s prospects of becoming a more normally functioning democracy.”
The second concern raised by Erdoğan’s election as president, the report says, is the “way in which it has driven a wedge between the formal and the actual allocation of powers in Turkey.”
According to the Economist’s report, the question at stake when Erdoğan was elected president last summer was “whether to move Erdoğan to the presidency with his power undimmed, whether or not he subsequently succeeds in his stated aim of amending the constitution to change Turkey’s political system to one with an executive presidency.”
“When a political community comes to understand that the power of the state rests with an individual, rather than with the office to which he or she has been elected, then that community is on a slippery slope as far as democratic norms are concerned,” the report concludes. (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 22, 2015)
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have presented a report concerning deaths resulting from crimes in the period since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, revealing that 241 children under state protection were murdered over the course 12 years, crimes for which the perpetrators have not been found.
In a joint press conference in Parliament on Thursday, CHP İzmir deputy Rıza Türmen and CHP Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu announced official figures from the report. Türmen stressed that most of the children who were later killed had grown up in an atmosphere of violence in earlier periods of their childhood.
Tanrıkulu argued that the state has the blood of the children on its hands, adding, “The government is responsible for the deaths of children.”
“The state is killing the children whom it in fact has to protect. The state is a killer of these children, and those who murder them are protected by the state mechanism. The security forces involved in the acts are under the protection of the state apparatus. They are not punished for what they have done. Since they go unpunished, they do not hesitate to resort to more violence against children. To top it all off, the government empowers the police force with additional authority that will result in the use of more power against individuals, which will make those individuals feel weaker in terms of seeking their rights,” Türmen complained.
Tanrıkulu also criticized the ruling AKP, saying a “hunt” is being carried out against children, a reference to recent deaths in the Cizre district of Şırnak province.
Şırnak is a troubled area where the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and radical Islamist Hüda-Par — a Kurdish Sunni party linked to Turkish Hizbullah — engage in frequent clashes. The government has been criticized for remaining silent in the face of the incidents in an effort to prevent the eruption of Kurdish unrest prior to general elections scheduled for June.
He recalled that five children had been killed in Cizre in a single month, adding: “No perpetrators have been found in connection with the killings. The government should get rid of the policy of impunity for offenders. In a place where the right to life is non-existent, no other basic right can be discussed.”
Tanrıkulu also stated that 520 people had been the victims of extrajudicial killings, while the number of those who were killed under detention or while in prison was 451 over the same period.
According to the report, 208 murders remained unsolved since 2012 as only eight murders went unsolved 2002. This figure increased to 58 in 2014. (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 22, 2015)
Lawyer Eren Keskin Sentenced to 10 Months Due to Article 301
Çerkezköy 1st Assize Court convicted human rights advocate Eren Keskin to 10 months of prison due to Article 301 when she said “The [Turkish] state has the brutal mentality to massacre a 12 year old child. Turkey must account…Turkey’s history is dirty”, referring to the death of Uğur Kaymaz in the southeastern province of Mardin.
On November 4, 2011, Justice Ministry allowed an investigation into Eren Keskin who testified in June 2014.
Similar sentences have been issued on hundreds of human rights activists, journalists and intellectuals in Turkey including Hrant Dink.
While the case was initially launched in December 19, 2011m it was concluded on December 12, 2014.
According to Radikal newspaper, the court didn’t suspend the announcement of verdict or its suspension or commuting into a fine, due to the “conviction about Keskin’s previous acts and her determination to repeat the crime again”. Convicted of Article 301 after a long time in Turkey, she will face prison if it is approved by Court of Cessation.
“Nobody can insult states, institutions and person in the name thoughts,” the verdict said.
It was also added that the sentence was not issued on the lower limit considering “the defendant’s aims and intensity of her purpose”.
Claiming that she had no criminal record, Keskin said that the sentence was issued on the basis of revenge”.
“The term ‘determination to repeat the crime again’ is used for severe criminal cases. I am a human rights activist, I am an advocate. I was always tried due to my thoughts. The issuing of this sentence is meaningful after the government’s claims of ‘nobody is serving in prison for their thought’. Therefore, there is nothing new in Turkey,” she said.
Journalist-writer Temel Demirer was also tried for saying “Hrant Dink wasn’t killed for being an Armenian but for recognizing the [Armenian] genocide under Article 301. His request for the suspension of Article 301 in an administrational court was also suspended within Turkey’s 3rd row of judicial package.
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted Turkey of violating freedom of expression in the case of Prof. Dr. Taner Akçam on Article 301’s usage even if its launching depended on ministry approval.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court, on the other hand, ruled that it would not review the case for 10 years as it rejected the suspension of Article 301 on October 4, 2013. The court also rejected the suspension request in 2009. (BIA, Jan 22 , 2015)
A 12-year-old boy was shot dead in the southeastern district of Cizre on Wednesday, the sixth death in Şırnak province’s troubled district since Dec. 27.
To soothe the boiling district under escalating tensions for weeks now, Democratic Society Congress Chairman Hatip Dicle and Şırnak lawmakers from the People’s Democracy Party (HDP) Selma Irmak and Faysal Sarıyıldız came to the district to have talks with civil society organizations.
Dicle also addressed a small crowd in the district on Wednesday. When the crowd dissipated after the speech, 12-year-old Nihat Kazanhan was shot in the head and heavily wounded near the Yasef neighborhood. He was taken to Cizre State Hospital, where he later died.
The cause of the boy’s death it still unknown, but witnesses blame police. They claimed that a police vehicle was passing by when Nihat was shot.
Security services have launched an investigation into the incident.
The death of the boy comes a week after a 14-year-old boy was killed during clashes between security services and a group of people affiliated with the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H) — an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — in Cizre.
The district was on edge following deadly clashes between pro-PKK and Islamist Kurds last month, when the clashes left three people dead and five others injured in the Nur neighborhood of Cizre.
Thirty-five people died in early October after Kurds rioted in several southeastern cities over what they perceived as the government’s refusal to help Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants in the besieged town of Kobani across the border.
The violence, the worst seen in the region in many years, was partly driven by intense clashes between Kurds and Islamists.
Calm in the region is key to a shaky peace process in which the government is negotiating an end to a 30-year conflict with the imprisoned leader of the outlawed PKK, who called a cease-fire last year.
The government’s foremost demand from the PKK is to maintain what it calls “public order,” while the PKK is asking Turkish authorities to set up a commission to adjudicate the settlement process.
On Wednesday, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan called for calm in a statement he released from jail, urging residents not to fall into “provocations.” The statement was read by Dicle to the crowd gathered in Cizre.
Öcalan said, “We are going through a sensitive period,” and called on the authorities to do whatever is required to maintain peace. (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 14, 2015)
US-based watchdog Freedom House has stated that Turkey has drifted further from democratic reforms, with former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rising to the presidency and overseeing government attempts to quash corruption cases against his allies and associates as well as with greater interference in the media and judiciary.
Releasing its annual “Freedom in the World 2015” report on Wednesday, Freedom House, which describes itself as “an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world,” heavily criticized the anti-democratic developments in Turkey.
The report, in its section on Europe, stated that in Turkey, Erdoğan “consolidated power during the year and waged an increasingly aggressive campaign against democratic pluralism.”
“He openly demanded that media owners censor coverage or fire critical journalists, told the Constitutional Court he does not respect its rulings, threatened reporters (and rebuked women journalists) and ordered radical, even bizarre changes to the school curriculum. Having risen from the premiership to the presidency in August, he formed a ‘shadow cabinet’ that allows him to run the country from the presidential palace, circumventing constitutional rules and the ministries of his own party’s government,” the report stated.
Erdoğan’s remarks from March 2014 about Twitter were one of the highlighted parts in the report, under the “Democracy’s opponents” section, with a picture of Erdoğan next to it. “We’ll eradicate Twitter. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish state,” Erdoğan said back then.
Turkey was listed as a “partly free” country in the report in terms of freedoms in the world and was rated 3.5 — one being the worst and seven being the best. With regards to civil liberties Turkey was rated 4 and for political rights 3. Turkey received a downward trend arrow in the report as well, “due to more pronounced political interference in anticorruption mechanisms and judicial processes, and greater tensions between majority Sunni Muslims and minority Alevis.”
In terms of press freedoms, Turkey was already among the “not free” countries in the last press freedom report of Freedom House released last year. The report also highlighted Erdoğan’s intensified campaign against media freedom and civil society as evidence of a growing disdain for democratic standards in the world, along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s rollback of democratic gains and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The report stated that a troubling number of large, economically powerful, or regionally influential countries moved backward. Turkey was cited among those countries, next to Azerbaijan, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela.
Freedom House stated that the media and judiciary both faced “greater interference by the executive and legislative branches, including a series of raids and arrests targeting media outlets affiliated with Erdoğan’s political enemies.”
The highly critical report stated that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) won two elections last year despite a corruption scandal implicating government ministers as well as Erdoğan and his family, which emerged in December 2013 and “cast a shadow over Turkish politics throughout 2014.”
“Erdoğan dismissed the evidence of corruption, including audio recordings, as fabrications by elements of a ‘parallel state’ composed of followers of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic scholar who had backed the AKP [AK Party] but was now accused of plotting to bring down the government,” the report stated.
The report also highlighted that more than 45,000 police officers and 2,500 judges and prosecutors were reassigned to new jobs as part of a move the government said was necessary to punish and weaken “rogue officials,” but seen by critics as a move designed to stop anti-corruption investigations and undermine judicial independence. “Erdoğan and AKP officials spoke out against other so-called traitors, including critical journalists and business leaders as well as members of the Alevi religious minority. Media outlets bearing unfavorable coverage of the government have been closed or placed under investigation,” the report said. (http://www.todayszaman.com)
A number of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies submitted a bill to the Parliament Speaker’s Office on Monday that would allow a decision from the prime minister or a member of the Cabinet to ban a website for 24 hours without a court order, a Turkish daily reported.
The Milliyet daily reported that AKP Konya deputy Kerim Özkul and a few others submitted the bill on Monday evening as another article on cyber crimes to be added to a new omnibus bill that was submitted to Parliament last week.
According to the bill, when there is content that “threatens people’s right to life, threatens their security or property, threatens national security and public order, poses a threat to general health or threatens people’s rights and freedoms by committing a crime,” then the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) will ban the website or block the content upon the request of the Prime Ministry or ministry relevant to the case, without seeking a court order.
If enacted in Parliament, TİB will apply the decision within four hours after being notified by the concerned ministry. It will ban the website temporarily and will have to apply to a court within 24 hours. If the court rules to lift the ban on that website’s content or to prevent access to it, the ruling will be applied.
Speaking with Today’s Zaman regarding newly initiated bill by the AKP deputies, Rota Haber Editor-in-Chief Ünal Tanık stressed that Turkey is heading for a ‘one man rule’ system at full speed.
“This system is not something that is alleged to be a presidential system. The one man [in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] has zero tolerance any opposing voice and idea. His demands and instructions are being turned into bills or laws in Parliament. I mean, a legal ground is being prepared to meet his demands to silence everyone. No legal change or amendment to a law should be commented but this perspective. AKP Deputy Chairman Mustafa Şentop clearly declared anyone who don’t agree with their party’s vision are also enemies of the country. Just like George W. Bush said, ‘You are with us or against us’ after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The case is the same with the AKP,” Tanık commented.
The bill has come just a month after Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Lütfi Elvan announced that the government is working on a new measure that grants the prime minister or a member of the Cabinet the power to ban a website for 24 hours without a court order for the sake of “public order or national security.”
A similar attempt to ban access to websites failed in October, when the Constitutional Court annulled an amendment that gave the state-controlled TİB the power to block access to websites without a court order. According to the nullified amendment, within four hours of a request from TİB, Internet service providers (ISPs) were required to block a specified website. As per the amendment, TİB had the right to block access to websites for reasons of “national security,” the “maintenance of public order” and “preventing a crime from being committed” without needing a court order. (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 20, 2015)
Merve Büyüksaraç, a model who became Miss Turkey in 2006, has testified to an İstanbul prosecutor for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on her Instagram account, the Cihan news agency reported on Wednesday.
Büyüksaraç reportedly shared on Instagram a poem adapted from the lyrics of the Turkish national anthem that featured insults targeting Erdoğan. Speaking to a prosecutor at the İstanbul Çağlayan Courthouse, Büyüksaraç reportedly said: “I don’t precisely recall the content I have shared on my Instagram account. However, I might have taken excerpts from Twitter, other social media websites or the cartoon magazine Uykusuz. I did not personally adapt the poem titled ‘The Poem of the Chief’. I shared it because it was funny to me. I did not intend to insult Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”
The model added that she deleted the post after a friend of hers warned her against possible prosecution because he had been faced with charges for a sharing something similar. The prosecutor demanded the model be put under supervision, but a court rejected the petition. Büyüksaraç was later released pending trial. (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 14, 2015)
According to a statement released by the ultranationalist Workers’ Party (İP), the travel ban imposed on its leader, Doğru Perinçek, as part of a domestic coup case has been unanimously lifted by the İstanbul 4th High Criminal Court, and he will be able to attend the hearing scheduled to take place on Jan. 28.
“The travel ban on our chairman imposed due to the Ergenekon case has been lifted unanimously by the court upon our appeal. Now, the [next step] is [for] the historical case in Strasbourg to finalize the lie of Armenian genocide,” it said in the statement.
İP leader Perinçek won an appeal at the European court against a Swiss court decision to convict him for branding the claims of Armenian genocide an “international lie” during a series of speeches in Switzerland in 2007. The court said in its Dec. 17, 2013, decision, which was hailed by Turkey, that the politician had exercised his right to free speech.
Switzerland, on the other hand, asked the ECtHR to review its decision. The Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg-based court is now due to review its earlier verdict on Jan. 28.
The Ergenekon case, which is why there is a travel ban on Perinçek, is being heard by the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals; however, the İstanbul court ruled to lift the travel ban, saying Perinçek’s appearance at the ECtHR is of importance.
The court, underlining the closing date of the hearing, stated that the İP chairman’s attendance at the hearing is of deep interest to Turkey, particularly regarding the ECtHR’s stance on Turkey’s thesis on the 1915 events.
Days before the court made its decision to lift Perinçek’s travel ban, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said he wished that the politician would be able to attend the hearing in Strasbourg.
“This is a matter that should be decided by the Supreme Court of Appeals. We, as Turkey, are a party to this case. For me, Perinçek should attend the hearing. But the decision will be made by the court,” he had said back on Jan 9. ( (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 19, 2015)
Des milliers de manifestants en mémoire du journaliste assassiné Hrant Dink
Plusieurs milliers de personnes ont défilé lundi dans les rues d’Istanbul à la mémoire du célèbre journaliste turc d’origine arménienne Hrant Dink, huit ans jour pour jour après son assassinat qui reste entouré de nombreuses zones d’ombre.
Les manifestants ont marché de la place Taksim jusqu’au siège du journal bilingue turco-arménien Agos qu’il dirigeait, derrière une banderole noire sur laquelle était écrit “prenons conscience du génocide avec Hrant Dink” et munis de pancartes “nous sommes tous Hrant Dink, nous sommes tous Arméniens”, ont constaté des journalistes de l’AFP.
La police est intervenue lundi soir dans la capitale Ankara avec des canons et des gaz lacrymogènes pour disperser un cortège nettement moins fourni de manifestants qui voulaient marcher sur le ministère de la Justice pour demander que toute la lumière soit faite sur les conditions de la mort du journalisme.
Selon la chaîne d’information CNN-Türk, 20 personnes ont été interpellées lors de cette brève opération.
Le 19 janvier 2007, Hrant Dink, 52 ans, une figure célèbre de la petite communauté arménienne de Turquie, était abattu de deux balles dans la tête devant le siège d’Agos.
Le journaliste oeuvrait à la réconciliation entre Turcs et Arméniens mais était haï par les nationalistes turcs pour avoir qualifié de génocide les massacres dont les Arméniens ont été victimes pendant la Première guerre mondiale.
La Turquie refuse catégoriquement de reconnaître toute élimination planifiée des Arméniens par l’Empire ottoman.
“J’espère sincèrement que les vérités pour lesquelles Hrant Dink et d’autres comme lui ont donné leur vie deviendront des réalités dans un avenir pas trop éloigné et dans une démocratie transparente”, a déclaré l’auteur dramatique Murathan Mungan dans un discours lu devant la foule.
– “Complot” –
“J’espère aussi que la justice sera bientôt rendue”, a-t-il ajouté.
Mineur au moment des faits, un jeune nationaliste, Ogün Samast, a avoué le meurtre du journaliste et a été condamné en juillet 2011 à 23 ans de prison. Mais l’identité de ses commanditaires continue toutefois de faire l’objet d’une vive polémique.
Un des instigateurs présumés de l’assassinat, Erhan Tuncel, a ainsi révélé lors de son procès qu’il avait informé la police d’un complot ourdi contre Hrant Dink, mais que ses avertissements n’avaient pas été entendus.
La justice turque a longtemps écarté la thèse d’une conspiration, jusqu’à ce que la Cour de cassation ordonne en 2013 la réouverture du dossier.
Plusieurs responsables turcs, dont des policiers, font actuellement l’objet de poursuites pour avoir négligé les menaces pesant sur le journaliste. Cette enquête a encore abouti lundi au placement en détention d’un ancien chef de la police de la région de Trabzon (nord-est), d’où est originaire le meurtrier.
Venus en masse en cette année du centenaire des événements de 1915, les manifestants d’Istanbul ont souhaité qu’Ankara reconnaisse le génocide arménien.
“Hrant Dink a été assassiné il y a huit ans parce qu’il a eu le courage de dire les choses (…) ce pays a beaucoup perdu quand il a banni les Arméniens”, a déclaré à l’AFP un des manifestants, Batuhan.
Selon un récent sondage, moins de 10% des Turcs souhaitent que leur gouvernement reconnaisse un génocide des Arméniens. (AFP, 19 janvier 2015)
Nous sommes, ici, réunis sur cette terre d’exil, pour la huitième fois pour saluer le courage exemplaire de Hrant Dink et saluer son combat pour la justice et la paix.
Il nous a quittés il y a huit ans telle une colombe de la paix en plein vol vers la liberté et la fraternité pour toute l’humanité.
Son journal Agos nous rappelle aujourd’hui: « Le 19 janvier n’est pas seulement le huitième anniversaire de ce crime odieux dont Hrant est la victime, mais également le début du centième anniversaire du génocide de son peuple. Un génocide qui a visé plus tard non seulement le peuple arménien, mais également les peuples assyriens, ézidis, grecs et kurdes.»
Oui, déjà huit ans se sont écoulés depuis l’assassinat de Hrant.
Mais il n’y a toujours pas de justice suite à son assassinat. Après huit ans de sales manœuvres juridico-politico-administratives, toujours pas de justice…Il y a un tas de preuves qui montrent que le meurtre a été commis avec l’aide et les instructions des fonctionnaires de l’État… Mais le même état continue à protéger et à promouvoir les commanditaires de ce crime.
Aujourd’hui, le parti d’Erdogan, dans une nouvelle tentative pour se débarrasser de la responsabilité du crime, essaye de culpabiliser une confrérie pour le meurtre de Hrant. Mais tout le monde sait très bien ceci: Quelles que soient les tractations actuelles, le pouvoir d’Erdogan, la confrérie en question, l’Armée, la police, la justice et les médias turco-islamiques sont tous complices des crimes atroces commis contre les citoyens.
Cette année-ci, en 2015, l’heure de vérité est arrivée.
Tous ceux qui attendaient un pas décisif venant des héritiers du parti Union et Progrès pour la reconnaissance du génocide des Arméniens et Assyriens se sont trompés une fois de plus.
Erdogan n’a non seulement pas répondu à l’invitation de son homologue arménien de se rendre le 24 avril à Erevan, mais il allume de surcroit un contre-feu diplomatique… Il a changé le jour de la cérémonie du souvenir du débarquement de Gelibolu. Cette manœuvre vise clairement à neutraliser la présence prévue des chefs d’État étrangers ce jour-là à Erevan.
L’année passée, ici, j’avais rappelé que 2014 était le centenaire de l’assassinat d’une autre colombe de la paix, Jean Jaurès.
C’est année-ci, il y a quelques jours, les forces obscurantistes soutenues par le régime d’Ankara ont assassiné à Paris une partie de l’équipe de rédaction de Charlie Hebdo.
Et dans une hypocrisie nauséabonde, le premier ministre néo-ottoman Davutoglu a participé à la grande manifestation pour la liberté d’expression à Paris alors que la violation de la liberté d’expression dans son pays est fréquemment dénoncée et protestée par les institutions internationales.
De plus, de retour à Ankara, il n’a pas hésité d’attaquer les journalistes de Charlie Hebdo tout en justifiant ainsi l’acte criminel de ses coreligionnaires.
Et une question…
Les dirigeants européens, qu’est-ce qu’ils font contre ces sales manœuvres d’Ankara? Il y a quelques jours le premier ministre Davutoglu a été accueilli à Bruxelles pour accélérer le processus d’adhésion de la Turquie à l’Union européenne.
Le même soir, Davutoglu n’a pas hésité à faire la propagande islamiste devant les immigrés turcs réunis dans une salle prestigieuse à Bruxelles.
Il n’y a aucune réaction de la part des autorités belges.
Pire encore… Les dirigeants belges ont déjà honoré le pouvoir d’Erdogan par l’attribution d’Europalia 2015 à la Turquie juste au centenaire du génocide des Arméniens et Assyriens.
Malgré tout cela, nous sommes résolus de crier encore plus haut pour révéler les crimes odieux et les manoeuvres hypocrites de ce régime honteux.
Il y a huit ans, ils ont tué Hrant pour faire taire la voix de tous ceux qui cherchent la vérité, ceux qui luttent pour la fraternité des peuples arméniens, assyriens, grecs, juifs, kurdes, turcs, ézidis…
Promettons aujourd’hui encore une fois de plus à Hrant que cette voix, ce cri pour la fraternité, pour la justice ne sera jamais étouffé.
Il sera encore plus fort pour la reconnaissance de toutes les vérités de l’histoire…
Jusqu’à une demande solennelle de pardon par l’Etat turc à tous les Hrant…
Hrant, mon frère, mon confrère, tu peux compter sur nous…
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Friday that he supports the attendance of Dogu Perinçek, a Turkish ultranationalist politician, at a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) hearing about his denial that 100 years ago an Armenian genocide took place, despite a travel ban that was imposed on him as part of a domestic coup case.
Doğu Perinçek, leader of the Workers’ Party (İP), won an appeal at the ECtHR against a Swiss court’s decision to convict him for saying that the Armenian genocide is an “international lie” during a series of speeches in Switzerland in 2007, which is seen as a crime in Switzerland. The court said in its Dec. 17, 2013, decision, which was hailed by Turkey, that the politician had exercised his right to free speech.
Switzerland, on the other hand, asked the ECtHR to review its decision. The Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg-based court is now due to review its earlier verdict on Jan. 28. (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 10, 2015)
Israël n’a pas l’intention de reconnaître le génocide arménien
Selon le site internet azerbaïdjanais trend.az, Israël n’a pas l’intention de reconnaître le “génocide arménien”, a déclaré l’ambassadeur d’Israël en Azerbaïdjan Rafael Harpaz (photo ci-contre).
Il commentait ainsi l’appel de quelques personnalités politiques du gouvernement de reconnaître le “génocide arménien”. “Israël est un pays démocratique, tout le monde a deux opinions, pas une seule”, a dit Harpaz. “le gouvernement a une opinion très claire”.
Il a dit qu’Israël ne reconnaîtra jamais et n’a pas l’intention de reconnaître le soi-disant “génocide arménien”.
“Pour ce qui le concerne, la politique du gouvernement est très claire et elle a été rendue publique par le ministre des affaires étrangères Avigdor Lieberman”, a insisté Harpaz.
S’agissant des relations politiques insatisfaisantes entre Israël et la Turquie, l’ambassadeur a exprimé l’espoir qu’elles s’amélioreront.
“Il y a suffisamment d’intérêts communs et de sujets dans le monde qui nous engagent à coopérer”, a dit Harpaz.
“J’aimerais prendre l’exemple de Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines est la plus importante compagnie aérienne étrangère en Israël. Istanbul est la plus importante plaque tournante pour les Israéliens. Il en va de même pour le tourisme, une activité en croissance. Nous espérons que nos relations politiques avec la Turquie s’amélioreront”. (Source : armenews.com, 10 janvier 2015)
Public prosecutor Celal Kara, who came to public attention as one of several prosecutors overseeing a high-profile graft probe that went public on Dec. 17, 2013, has said the investigation revealed that the country was financially damaged by the corruption suspects through illegal money laundering.
Speaking to veteran journalist Can Dündar from the Cumhuriyet daily on Sunday, prosecutor Kara, who was suspended by the government-controlled Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) on Dec. 30, 2013 along with three other colleagues, recalled that he became involved in the investigation in June 2013 after he was appointed as a prosecutor in İstanbul.
In discussing the details of the corruption investigation that included then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his family, government-affiliated businessmen and several then-ministers, Kara stressed that when he was assigned to oversee the investigation, he was given 300 investigation files.
Fifty-three suspects, including bureaucrats, prominent businessmen and the sons of three ministers, were detained in the Dec. 17 operation in 2013.
In the first part of the interview published by the Cumhuriyet daily on Sunday, Kara said that Erdoğan was the number one name in the graft probe and that behind the scenes he knew and approved of a chain of corrupt dealings between several ministers and Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who was a prime suspect in the investigation.
Kara noted that it took a month for him to examine the corruption case evidence and suspects in detail and that he decided to launch an operation in December 2013 once all the details became clear to him. “However, I am not the one who ordered this investigation. When I took over the probe, 13 months of technical surveillance had already been carried out and the required evidence had already been collected by the police,” he added.
When asked what prompted that initial investigation, Kara said money that belonged to Zarrab was seized at Russian customs and the Russian officials informed their Turkish counterparts of the matter. Kara went on to state: “The first examination concluded that there was a suspicious money delivery at customs. After that the police department was tipped off about Zarrab’s illegal money and gold transfers via his companies based in İstanbul’s Kapalıçarşı. Once notified, police officers launched an extensive investigation into the claims. When I took over the investigation, it had already found key evidence about the illegal transfer of money and gold.”
In response to the government’s accusations that the Dec. 17 investigation was a coup attempt against the government, Kara replied that it is impossible to describe the probe as a coup attempt: “Such claims cannot be accepted. I did not target certain people or incidents while conducting the investigation. But still I want to ask what a prosecutor could do to prevent a corruption probe that a government was involved in from not being defined as coup?”
Interior Minister Güler’s son first to notice police surveillance
The prosecutor also underlined that a courier of Barış Güler, son of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler, realized that the family was being monitored by police on Oct. 25, 2014 after which Barış Güler informed his father Muammer of the situation, adding: “Muammer Güler asked the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) about who ordered the surveillance. In an attempt to identify who was monitoring them, they placed a police car for observation in front of Zarrab’s residence. When I heard of this unexpected development, I ordered the surveillance to be terminated on Oct. 27, 2014.”
When asked about the preparations the prosecutors made prior to Dec. 17, Kara noted that he visited the National Police Department (EGM) three or four times the week before the Dec. 17 operation and made preparations with the police chiefs, most of whom are in prison now, about the details of the planned operations into those suspects. “On the other hand, we worked hard to fully understand the source of such huge money transfers and who was part of it. A couple of days before the operation, we fully comprehended who was who and the money transfer network. After that, a road map was outlined that considered the difficulties we could face in the next phases of the operation. With other prosecutors overseeing the probe, we penned a 309 page report and an indictment of over 500 pages,” said Kara.
In relation to the number of police chiefs who were informed of the investigation, Kara stated that then-police chiefs Yakub Saygılı, Kazım Aksoy, Yasin Topçu, Mehmet Akif Üner, Hüseyin Korkmaz and Savaş Akyol, who are now in prison, along with several police officers who carried out technical surveillance were informed of the operation, highlighting that the number of those who were aware of the operation did not exceed 20 police chiefs and officers.
Underlining that his family was not informed of the operation and that in fact his wife was angry with him for not telling her about it, Kara said his children learned of the investigation and operation from the TV news.
When asked why then-İstanbul Police Chief Hüseyin Çapkın was not informed of the operation, Kara said: “We were aware that if he had known about the operation, he would feel obliged to inform Muammer Güler. After the operation he told us: ‘It was fortunate that you did not inform me about it. Otherwise, I would have been obliged to inform the Interior Minister.’”
Kara also stressed that when he ordered the search of Barış Güler’s house, he knew that a huge amount of money would be found but he was surprised by the safes and money-counting machines in Güler’s bedroom.
When Kara was asked to summarize the entire operation and investigation, he responded by saying: “The main target here is Zarrab. He looks for a way to transfer money from Iran, which the country couldn’t transfer because of the international embargo imposed on it. The others [in reference to the Turkish politicians that the investigation implicated] thought of how they could benefit from the situation and obtain gains. Then, Zarrab forged a document showing that he exported 150,000 tonnes of food to Iran, a type of export that is not banned by the embargo on Iran. The main purpose of this was to illegally ease sanctions on Iran. Through these forged documents Turkey was deprived of tax revenue. There is no loss for Iran. Only Turkey loses. The county was robbed using this method.”
In addition, Zarrab allegedly bribed ministers, their sons and public officials to keep his network working. According to the prosecutors’ findings, Zarrab distributed TL 139 million in bribes. (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 26, 2015)
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit Cuba as part of a Latin American tour next month, Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said at his first press conference at the newly built presidential palace, adding, however, that there is no plan to lay the groundwork to build a mosque there.
News reports have said that Erdoğan will oversee the beginning of construction of a mosque when he visits Cuba in mid-February, in line with his controversial remarks in November that Muslims discovered America first and that a mosque once sat on a hill along the Cuban coast.
“I will talk to my brothers in Cuba and a mosque would suit the top of that hill today as well. We would build it if they [the Cuban government] say so,” Erdoğan then said.
“There is no plan to lay the groundwork for a mosque during our Cuba visit. It’s not in our program,” Kalın told reporters.
A Turkish delegation traveled in April to Cuba to seek permission to build a mosque in the Cuban capital of Havana. Turkish media has subsequently reported, however, that Cuban authorities rejected the request, submitted by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Foundation (TDV).
Kalın was appointed presidential spokesman in December. He became the first spokesman for the Turkish presidency, as part of a restructuring in the presidential team following Erdoğan’s election to the top state post in an election on Aug. 10.
At the televised press conference, Kalın also denied a news report that Turkish troops guarding the tomb of Süleyman Şah in northern Syria have been stranded there since March, unable to receive any supplies from Turkey because the tomb is surrounded by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The troops have been receiving water and food from ISIL, journalist Methehan Demir wrote on his blog.
Kalın dismissed the report as “speculation” and said that, despite difficulties, the needs of the soldiers are routinely met. (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 29, 2015)
The European Parliament’s (EP) first progress report, released on Friday under newly appointed Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri, has warned that Turkey currently does not meet the EU’s expectations for a candidate country due to issues related to freedom of speech and the lack of an independent judiciary.
In a statement issued along with the EP progress report, Piri said: “The rule of law and the respect for fundamental freedoms form the core of the EU negotiation process. In this respect, Turkey currently does not meet the expectations that we have for an EU candidate country. The concerns of the European Parliament focus on the freedom of speech and the independence of the judiciary — both essential components of an open democracy.”
Piri also added that these issues are “tainting relations with Turkey” preventing Turkey’s negotiation process with the EU from moving forward. “The most effective way to increase leverage on Turkey is, however, through the negotiation process, especially by opening chapters 23 and 24 which relate to fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Piri.
Turkey and the EU began accession talks on 35 negotiating chapters in 2005, but there has been very little progress since then amid opposition to Turkish membership in some EU countries, including France, and the unresolved Cyprus dispute. The EU has opened 14 chapters with Turkey so far, but 17 chapters still remain blocked.
Turkey has called on the EU to open chapters 23 and 24, the two chapters that cover issues related to the judiciary, fundamental rights, freedom and security. The two chapters are blocked by Greek Cyprus.
Piri said there are also positive developments taking place in Turkey praising, “The commitment of the Turkish government to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable solution for the Kurdish issue on the basis of negotiations with the (outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party) PKK, and by that enhancing the social, cultural and political rights of the citizens of Kurdish origin.” She further noted that Turkey deserves the EU’s full support on the issue.
“The EU and Turkey are strategic partners that need each other in the fight against terrorism and in finding solutions to the very serious developments in the region surrounding Europe, especially in Syria and Iraq. There are still many possibilities to further develop economic relations and the EU also has a moral duty to help Turkey with the reception of 1.6 million Syrian refugees,” Piri said.
The EP report stressed that the accession process is a unique opportunity for Turkey to develop a strong pluralistic democratic system with solid institutions and called on Turkey to place the accession process at the center of its domestic policy choices. The report praised the ability of political parties to campaign in languages other than Turkish and reiterated the importance of lowering the 10 percent electoral threshold, which would enable opportunities of political participation of all components of society in Turkey
The report expressed support for the settlement process and said that a successful resolution of the Kurdish issue would be a positive contribution to stability and the protection of human rights in Turkey. It encouraged all political parties to support this process and called on the commission to provide technical support and dedicate available resources to programs relating to socio-economic integration and education in the Southeast as a way to reinforce the settlement process.
Regarding issues of corruption, the report noted that the EP regrets how the Turkish government reacted to the corruption allegations in December 2013 and is of the opinion that there should be a transparent and independent investigation into the accusations. The report also pointed out the need for an adequate legal framework for the fight against corruption, which does not only erode people’s trust in democracy but can also harm economic development and a favourable investment climate.
Piri’s report also pointed out the recent amendments to the Law on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and the subsequent numerous reassignments and dismissals of judges, prosecutors and police officers raised serious concerns about the independence, impartiality and efficiency of the judiciary and the separation of powers.
The report praised a number of “important decisions” made by the Constitutional Court protecting the rule of law and fundamental rights, such as the freedom of expression, which has illustrated the resilience of the constitutional system. The EP report called on the government to provide for adequate checks and balances on the power of law enforcement agencies and recommended that Turkish authorities set up an independent and effective police complaint mechanism.
Press freedom issues
The EP report said that Turkey should address media freedom as a matter of priority and provide an adequate legal framework guaranteeing pluralism in line with international standards and that it regrets efforts by the Turkish government to ban access to social media, its restrictive approach to freedom of expression and the pressure put on media outlets and journalists. The report also called the Dec. 14 detention of media representatives deplorable, recommending that in all cases the government needs to provide ample and transparent information on the allegations being made against the defendants and grant them full access to the incriminating evidence. Moreover, they must be granted full defence rights to ensure the proper handling of the cases and establish the veracity of the accusations without delay and beyond reasonable doubt.
The report further highlighted the importance of continuing efforts by Turkey and Greece to improve their bilateral relations. It called on the Turkish government to respect the sovereign rights of all members states, including Greek Cyprus’s right to the exploration of natural resources when in line with the EU acquis and international law. It expressed support for the reunification of the ethnically divided island of Cyprus and called on both sides to resume negotiations under the UN auspices. The report also urged Turkey and Armenia to proceed to normalize their relations without any preconditions and establish diplomatic relations by opening the border.
The report pointed to the need to promote dialogue with the Alevi community and to give proper recognition to Cem houses as places of worship as well as to allow the reopening of the Halki Monastery on Heybeliada Island.
Piri’s report also called on Turkey to take the necessary measures to protect the rights of homosexuals and suggested the creation of a specific body to combat discrimination, hate speech, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance, thereby reinforcing individual rights in Turkey. (TODAY’S ZAMAN, Jan 16, 2015)
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