The Turkish Parliament passed a new law intended to address the issue of violence against women on International Women’s Day, in what a Turkish minister said was a “present to all the women of our country.”
The Justice Commission approved the draft law on Monday -- which includes electronic monitoring of known abusers to prevent violence against women -- and sent the bill to the General Assembly for debate. Despite the implementation of harsh measures for those who inflict violence against women in the new law, women’s rights groups have come out against what they call drastic changes to the bill, including its name, which was changed to the “Draft law to protect family and prevent violence against women,” from the “Draft law to protect women and individual family members from violence” as previously agreed by women’s rights groups and the Family and Social Policy Ministry. Concerned groups have also said there are crucial shortcomings in the legislation with regards to how the law will be implemented.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Turkey rang in this year’s International Women’s Day with academic seminars, activist demonstrations and statements from political leaders, all calling for enhanced women’s rights.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at Mardin’s Artuklu University that this Women’s Day has a significant meaning for women around the world.
“This International Women’s Day women who suffered in the Van earthquakes deserve to be remembered. Women who lost their husbands and sons in Uludere deserve to be remembered. Women in North Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt all deserve to be remembered,” said Erdoğan, who also said he continues to pray for the women of Syria.
Concerts, scholarly discussions and protests across Turkey called for an end to the patriarchal system that allows discrimination and violence against women to persist. Many women’s rights groups banded together on Thursday night in İstanbul’s Taksim Square for the annual Women’s Day March down İstiklal Street.
March 3, Saturday
Roughly 200 people from civil organizations, labor unions and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) gathered in İstanbul’s Taksim Square to protest the imprisonment of journalists on coup charges. The protest was held on the first anniversary of the imprisonment of journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener who were jailed on charges of having links to the terrorist organization Ergenekon, a shadowy crime network with alleged links within the state, which is suspected of plotting to topple the government.
March 4, Sunday
In a new campaign to reclaim many of Turkey’s most treasured artifacts from museums abroad, Turkey’s government refused to loan artifacts to museums in England and the United States that house artifacts that were taken from Turkey under disputed circumstances.
Amidst allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by adult inmates at Adana’s Pozantı Juvenile Detention Center, inmates at Osmaniye Prison went on a hunger strike to protest the violence and poor treatment they are allegedly exposed to in the prison. The Human Rights Association (İHD) and the Contemporary Jurists’ Association (ÇHD) have recently received several complaints from inmates held at Osmaniye Prison who claim they are exposed to violence and prohibited from reading books and newspapers. They also complained that those who protest against the violence are sentenced to solitary confinement and subjected to further physical attacks.
Retired police officer Hasan Eryılmaz, who was head of the political branch of the Ankara Police Department in the lead-up to the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, was found dead in his car at the İncek intersection in Ankara. It is still unknown whether Eryılmaz committed suicide or was killed.
March 5, Monday
A recent report by the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) issued for Gen. Şener Eruygur, a suspect pending trial in the case against Ergenekon, states the general is fit to be taken back into custody. The report states that his health condition is not serious and prison conditions would not have a negative impact on pre-existing health problems he may have.
Maj. Gen. Mustafa Bakıcı, for whom an İstanbul court issued an arrest warrant in August of last year as part of a probe into the establishment of several websites that allegedly ran propaganda campaigns against civilian groups on behalf of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), was seen in Germany after first fleeing to Russia to evade arrest.
Members of the environmentalist group Greenpeace staged a protest against the Turkish Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) project in İstanbul’s Sultanahmet Square on Monday morning in what made for an interesting spectacle for tourists doing their rounds of the city’s historic sites. The Greenpeace members assembled mock gravestones with nuclear warning symbols and the names of Turkish cities in the area between the Sultanahmet and Hagia Sophia mosques. Protestors, many of whom donned gas masks, held placards bearing messages such as “Let’s not let Akkuyu be another Fukushima” and “The responsibility is yours.”
Turkey has decided to maintain the sanctions it imposed on France after the nation’s assembly endorsed a bill making it a crime to deny that World War I-era mass killings of Armenians constituted a genocide.
March 6, Tuesday
The massive Turkish aid drive to troubled East African nation Somalia continues unabated with Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ making an appearance in Mogadishu to coordinate assistance efforts. Bozdağ, who landed in the Somali capital on the first Turkish Airlines (THY) flight to the country, attended ceremonies to officially inaugurate aid stations built by Turkish governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
Ankara will not change its plans to freeze dialogue with the European Union presidency when Greek Cyprus takes over the helm of the 27-nation bloc in July, even if the Greek Cypriots revive Turkey’s stalled EU membership talks as recent media reports suggest, Turkish officials said. Turkey, which first opened accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, has declared that it will freeze dialogue with the EU presidency when Greek Cyprus -- not recognized by Ankara -- takes over the EU’s rotating term presidency as of July 1, unless a solution is found to the island’s division by then.
The Bugün daily claimed that the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that includes the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and which suffered a blow to its reputation when Turkish security forces arrested thousands of its members in operations conducted since 2009, is in the process of restructuring itself under a new name, the People’s Democratic Brotherhood (HDK). The terrorist organization’s leaders decided on the name and structure change, according to Bugün, after the police almost completely uncovered the organization and arrested many suspects for their links to the KCK their involvement in illegal practices.
Some 12,000 opinions have been submitted to the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission regarding Turkey’s new constitution by civil society organizations, political parties and workers’ unions among others.
March 7, Wednesday
PKK terrorists kidnapped three young women and two men from the Şemdinli district of the province of Hakkari, all of whom are related to the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani. This incident created tension between the terrorist organization and the Kurdish leader when the PKK refused his request to release the kidnapped people and stated that the kidnapped individuals will be forced to serve in the militia arm of the terrorist organization.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu signaled that the government could seek permission from Parliament to deploy troops in Syria in the event of ongoing violence in the country escalating to the point where it will undermine Turkish national security. En route to Nakhichevan after a diplomatic visit to the Netherlands, Davutoğlu said Turkey is currently placing emphasis on finding a diplomatic solution to quell the violence in Syria, which has been continuing for over a year, but has not ruled out other options.
Fourteen suspects, including retired Gen. Saldıray Berk and former prosecutor and current CHP deputy İlhan Cihaner, put a subversive plot known as the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism into operation in Erzincan between 2009 and 2010, according to an indictment accepted by the Supreme Court of Appeals on March 2. The Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism details a military plan to destroy the image of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and faith-based Hizmet (Gülen) movement in the eyes of the public, play down the Ergenekon investigation and gather support for members of the military arrested as part of the investigation into Ergenekon.
İstanbul counterterrorism police units carried out excavations at two sites in İstanbul in search of explosives as part of a terrorism investigation and found 15 kilograms of plastic explosives at one of the sites.
Members of Anonymous, the international online group of self-described anarchist hackers, recently targeted the Prime Ministry’s computer network in order to acquire electronic correspondence between government agencies but were unsuccessful due to the efforts of cybersecurity specialists.
March 8, Thursday
Well-respected Turkish intellectual and scholar Fethullah Gülen has denied recent media reports based on leaked e-mails from security analysis company Stratfor that said members of his movement were putting pressure on the ruling AK Party in order to control the party.
A report prepared by the Interior Ministry on a deadly airstrike by Turkish fighter jets in December along the Turkish-Iraqi border says local commanders in the region were not responsible for the decision to strike, pointing instead to their superiors. The report was submitted to the parliamentary commission investigating the tragic incident on Wednesday.
Large amounts of explosives were found across Turkish cities over the past few days, which the police say were being stored for use in violent attacks staged by the terrorist PKK during this year’s annual spring festival of Nevruz, mainly celebrated by Kurds in Turkey, which occurs in the latter half of March.
As the Sledgehammer coup plot trial, which began in 2010, nears its conclusion, it is becoming crystal clear that Sledgehammer was a coup plot, contrary to the claims of suspects suggesting that it was a war game, because none of the suspects have been able to substantiate these claims during the trial.
The Turkish Parliament on International Women’s Day passed a new law intended to address the issue of violence against women in what a Turkish minister said was a “present to all the women of our country.”
March 9, Friday
CHP deputy Şafak Pavey was honored with an award for her courage and leadership in advocating for women’s and disabled’s rights and empowerment by the US State Department.
As this year’s Abant Platform tackles the pressing issue of shaping Turkey’s new constitution, a wide spectrum of intellectuals, lawyers, political leaders and journalists are discussing the problematic areas of, and proposing solutions to, the constitutional drafting process. “Deliberations should continue with the spirit of respecting each other’s thoughts on a given topic. What I say might be right, but what another person says might be right, too,” said Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, who heads the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, at the opening of the 26th Abant meeting, held from March 9 to 11 in the northwestern province of Bolu.
The İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office sought special permission from the Prime Ministry to allow for Turkey’s incumbent intelligence chief and four other National Intelligence Organization (MİT) officials to be summoned as part of an investigation into the KCK.
UN humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos said the Syrian government has agreed to allow limited access to UN aid agencies but is asking for more time. Speaking at a press conference held in Ankara, Amos said Syrian government officials had agreed to allow a UN preliminary humanitarian assessment mission to enter the country.