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Turkey’s ‘Justice March: Opposition leader launches court challenge as he marches to Istanbul

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 Kemal Kilicdaroglu (third from left) : a single word, “Adalat” –  “justice”.

Turkey’s opposition leader launches court challenge as he marches to Istanbul

By Daren Butler | ISTANBUL Reuters.

Turkey’s main opposition leader launched a European court appeal on Tuesday over an April vote that granted President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers, stepping up his challenge to the government as he led a 425 km (265 mile) protest march.

Erdogan accuses the protesters, marching from Ankara to Istanbul, of “acting together with terrorist groups”, referring to Kurdish militants and followers of a U.S.-based cleric who Ankara says was behind last year’s coup.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), hit back on Tuesday, defending his “justice march” and accusing the government of creating a one-party state in the wake of the failed putsch on July 15.

On the 20th day of his march, triggered by the jailing of a CHP deputy on spying charges, Kilicdaroglu signed an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the election board’s decision to accept unstamped ballots in the April 16 referendum.

“Turkey has rapidly turned into a (one-)party state. Pretty much all state institutions have become branches of a political party,” he told reporters. “This is causing profound harm to our democratic, parliamentary system.”

Kilicdaroglu, 68, wearing a white shirt and a baseball cap with the word ‘justice’ printed on it, then set out on the latest leg of the march from the city of Izmit, around 100 km (60 miles) along the coast to the east of central Istanbul.

The protest has gained momentum as it passes through northwest Turkey’s countryside and representatives of the pro-Kurdish HDP, parliament’s third largest party, joined the march on Monday near the jail of its former co-leader Figen Yuksekdag.

There are deep divisions among opposition parties but Yuksekdag, stripped of her parliamentary status in February, issued a statement from her cell on Monday calling for them to put those differences aside.

“We must set up the shattered scales of justice again and fight for this together,” she wrote, saying justice had hit “rock bottom” with the jailing of 11 HDP lawmakers and around 100 mayors.

The party rejects charges of ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, designated a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies, which launched an insurgency in 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

As the protesters advance, Erdogan has stepped up his attacks on the march, saying the CHP was longer acting as a political opposition.

“We can see that they have reached the point of acting together with terror groups and those powers which provoke them against our country,” he said in a speech to officials from his ruling AK Party on Saturday.

“The path which you are taking is the one of Qandil, the one of Pennsylvania,” he said, referring to the northern Iraqi mountains where the PKK is based and the U.S. state where Erdogan’s ally-turned-foe Fethullah Gulen lives.

Kilicdaroglu launched his march in Ankara on June 15 after Enis Berberoglu was jailed for 25 years for espionage, becoming the first lawmaker from the party imprisoned in a government crackdown in the wake of the attempted coup.

Since the purge began, more than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial, 150,000 have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs. Ankara has also shut down 130 media outlets and some 160 journalists are in prison, according to union data.

In April a referendum was held on constitutional changes that sharply widened Erdogan’s presidential authority and the proposals won 51.4 percent approval in a vote, which has triggered opposition challenges including the latest CHP move.

Opposition parties have said the poll was deeply flawed and European election observers said the decision to allow unstamped ballot papers to be counted had removed a main safeguard against voting fraud.

(Additional reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan and Richard Balmforth)

Background: (Al Monitor)

Turkey’s main opposition changes focus from ‘secularism’ to ‘justice’

As I was writing these lines, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was marching on the highway somewhere near Hendek, a town 200 kilometers (124 miles) east of Istanbul. He had been on the road for two weeks, walking some 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) a day and resting at a hotel or in a bus at night. He had at least 10 more days to go. And neither him, nor the thousands of people who joined him for this remarkable march, held any party flag or partisan slogan. They marched only with one simple motto: Justice.

This is the “Justice March” Kilicdaroglu began June 15 in reaction to a court decision that sentenced one of the CHP’s deputies, Enis Berberoglu, to 25 years in prison. Berberoglu’s alleged crime was to help publish the photos of weapons that Turkish intelligence trucks were shipping into Syria back in 2014. This, in the eyes of the court, made him a criminal who “exposed state secrets” and carried out “espionage.” In the free world, however, people would probably just say he did something called “journalism.”

The Berberoglu sentence was in fact only the last straw. Since the July 15 failed coup, Turkey has been going through one of its darkest eras in which “justice” has become desperately lacking. The coup attempt, for sure, was a bloody episode that required a rigorous prosecution and a state of emergency. But after a few weeks of “national unity,” the government began to use the state of emergency as a tool to crack down on all opposition voices in every walk of life, from politics to journalism to academia. More than 50,000 people found themselves in jail, and another 140,000 people have been fired from their jobs. These arrests and purges were often based on nothing but suspicion, and someone’s political stance against the government was often seen as enough evidence of “treason.” Prosecutors and judges themselves faced the pressure of arresting more and more people to prove their loyalty to the system.

France 24 comments,

Given the unprecedented display of opposition from the CHP, all eyes in the next few days will be on Erdogan’s response to the Justice March.

His options range from letting the march end in Istanbul in a peaceful protest, blocking access to the final demonstration, allowing pro-AK party thugs to descend on the protesters or ordering a security crackdown. Coming as it will, just days before the July 15 2016 coup anniversary, these are options Erdogan will have to carefully weigh. “The Justice March is going to leave Erdogan with some unsavoury possibilities,” noted Eissenstat. “It forces him to either allow the opposition to oppose him on the streets or forces him to use force. But if it comes to seeing Kemal Kilicdaroglu in shackles that would be politically explosive. None of the options work out well for him.”

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Written by Andrew Coates

July 4, 2017 at 12:12 pm

HDP and Party of European Socialists and Party of the European Left Declarations on Turkish Situation as Amnesty Raises Torture Evidence.

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Erdoğan  Regime Faces Torture Charges after Failed Coup.  

Amnesty International:

Turkey: Independent monitors must be allowed to access detainees amid torture allegations

Amnesty International has gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country.

The organisation is calling for independent monitors to be given immediate access to detainees in all facilities in the wake of the coup attempt, which include police headquarters, sports centres and courthouses. More than 10,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.

Amnesty International has credible reports that Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.

“Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week. The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention,” said Amnesty International’s Europe director John Dalhuisen.

“It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”

HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan) statements: 

The Way Out of This Crisis is not Declaring State of Emergency, but Democracy

HDP Imrali Delegation’s Press Release on Ocalan’s condition.

The concerns and unlawful treatments regarding Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, kept in solitary confinement in Imrali Island since April 5th 2015, increasingly continue, particularly after the coup attempt on July 15th.  Both the analysis made by Mr Ocalan regarding how Imrali Island might be affected by a likely coup attempt, and news and information taking place in Turkish media, as well as, inadequate and careless attitude of government officials, towards the requests concerning worries and unlawful treatments regarding Mr. Abdullah Ocalan increase mistrust between the public and the state.

Our committee contacted government and state officials right after the coup attempt and delivered these concerns. We have stated the need for Ocalan’s family and lawyers, as well as, an unbiased committee’s visit to remove these concerns. As a matter of fact, the information gathered from these talks with officials was announced to the public, and we repeated our warnings applying their historical significance. While our concerns remain without response, Mr. Ocalan and other prisoners kept in Imrali Island, hindered from their rights to write and receive letters, receive phone calls and visits from family members and lawyers long before the coup attempt, are once again aggrieved by the declaration of state of emergency and its consequences by local court order.

This court order creates a more vicious solitary confinement. It is a provocative order targetting the common future of peoples seeking a way out of the civil and military coup vortex. It is an illegal and unlawful move against law, justice and democratic resolution. Withdrawal of this order carries a great importance. We also would like to stress the urgent need and importance of direct contact with Mr Ocalan to eliminate concerns and prevent increases in social tensions. Turkey’s only and main way out of this crisis is the resolution of the Kurdish question and other accumulated,long-standing problems. What needs to be done for this resolution is not imposing  solitary confinement, but providing conditions for a democratic negotiation. It’s essential to provide equal and free negotiation conditions for Mr. Ocalan, who foresaw the coup mechanics which are recorded in official reports, and he had warned state officials long before the attempt. A contrary move will serve the benefit of coup-plotters and risk bringing  our people into darker days.  This concerns not only the peoples of Turkey and Kurdistan, but also all peoples of the Middle East and the world without a doubt.

Within this context, we urge the attention of particularly the United Nations, the European Parliament, institutions of the European Union, CPT, Amnesty International, and national and international institutions, as well as, our people and public who stand with democracy and peace….

 

Wikipedia. “The Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan[12]), or Democratic Party of the Peoples, is a pro-Kurdish and pro-minority political party in Turkey. Generally left-wing, the party places a strong emphasis on participatory democracy, minority rights, and egalitarianism. It is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and consultative member of the Socialist International.”

 

Party of European Socialists:

REINTRODUCING DEATH PENALTY IN TURKEY COULD HARM COUNTRY’S RELATIONS WITH THE EU

The Party of European Socialists would like to express its concern about the thousands of suspensions in the military, in the police, in the justice system following the attempted coup in Turkey. The PES is worried the most about the debate on the re-introduction of the death penalty, initiated by the Turkish Government.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said: “Death penalty is brutal and fundamentally unjust. We are deeply worried that the Turkish leadership is promoting the idea of re-introducing it. We call on the government for maximum restraint and caution in the aftermath of the attempted coup. Any step in the direction of reintroducing the death penalty could harm the relations between Turkey and the EU. Rejecting the death penalty is a specific request to all the countries which apply for EU membership.”

As it was made clear in the initial statement of the PES from the 16th of July in support of democracy in Turkey, the coup, should not be used as a pretext to undermine human rights.

Stanishev said: “Any attempt of a power grab through major constitutional changes will push Turkey farther away from the EU and will jeopardize a much needed reconciliation in Turkey”.

 

European left (alliance of left European parties)  declaration.

 

No military coup in Turkey and no civilian coup either

The European Left sharply condemns the attempt of a military coup d’etat in Turkey. This is no way to establish democracy and no way to secure human rights.

At the same time we are very clear in our condemnation of the current arbitrary reprisals against real or presumed enemies of the Erdogan government. The perpetrators of the military coup have to face the judicial consequences of their deeds but the imprisonment of thousands of people on the flimsiest of pretexts is in contravention of the rule of law and creates new divisions in an already fragmented society.

We strongly warn against the reintroduction of the death penalty in Turkey and we are appalled about the way Erdogan and his AKP government are using the current situation as a chance to reinforce the authoritarian presidential regime.

The Party of the European Left supports a real democratic perspective for Turkey. We therefore request the European Union to cancel the dirty refugee-deal with Erdogan and to apply pressure towards an end of curfews in Kurdish cities, of hostilities and massacres in the Kurdish regions of Turkey and the re-establishing of parliamentary immunity for the HDP parliamentarians. Our solidarity belongs to the progressive and democratic forces in Turkey and offer our solidarity in their fight against repression.

More statements:

French Communist Party (PCF):

 

Turquie : “La France doit cesser son soutien au régime sanguinaire d’Erdogan” (PCF)

Turkey:  France must end its backing to the bloodstained Erdogan regime.

 

We have witnessed a coup process second by second on 15th July evening with all its uncertainties, hesitations, countermoves of opposing sides and ferocities. This bloody night, which will be remembered with the clashes between the soldiers and the police, occupations in the media channels, images of massacred civilians and lynched soldiers and bombing of the National Assembly as a peak point, appear as one of the last scenes of the power struggle between the old partners inside the state that AKP and Gülen congregation built in cooperation. Based on the fact that Erdoğan regime does not hesitate to have resort to chaos and civil war atmosphere in order to maintain his hegemony since the elections on 7th June 2015, following the push down of the coup attempt in a very short time and reappearances of the government members on the media channels with refreshed images, many conspirative evaluations, that this attempt was designed for Erdoğan’s dictatorial lust to be actualized, had broad repercussion. Under the circumstances where the regime was consolidated with almost 50 percent of the votes in the last elections, a more reasonable interpretation is that Gülen supporters, who faced a huge discharge operation, and some sections in the army they are in cooperation with, have drawn the coup plan forth in a hurry.

Support our Turkish and Kurdish sisters and bothers against this Islamist despot!

An important article on the background to the present crisis.

Review of Cihan Tuğal, The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism, Verso: London and New York 2016,

CE TEMELKURAN  GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE MIDDLE EAST? Latest New Left Review – just out.

Extract:

 

The ‘fall of the Turkish model’ announced by Tuğal in his book’s title could have multiple, overlapping meanings. Has the model failed because it could not be exported to the rest of the Middle East—Egypt and Tunisia in particular? Was that because of its inherent flaws, or because social and political conditions were very different in those countries, as Tuğal demonstrates? However tarnished it may now be, we should not assume that the AKP’s political model has ‘fallen’, in the sense of being incapable of retaining power or mass support. Its followers have been encouraged to believe that social rights are a form of political charity that should only be available to those who vote AKP. They are mobilized by a gigantic propaganda machine which promotes a visceral hatred of the party’s adversaries; Erdoğan can break his promises whenever he sees fit, and anyone who dares to raise the matter will find themselves branded as the enemy. It is considered perfectly acceptable for AKP leaders to incite crowds to boo the family of a fifteen-year-old, Berkin Elvan, who was killed by a police bullet during the Gezi uprising. Turkey’s Constitutional Court was also anathematized when it ordered the release of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. Between August 2015 and February 2016, sixty people were charged with insulting Erdoğan and prosecuted, with each ‘criminal’ facing a year or two in prison. Recently, a woman in the process of divorcing her husband accused him of insulting the President, hoping to get the upper hand in the divorce proceedings. Business owners of all kinds are kept in line, with the AKP’s sword hanging over their heads.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Turkey “Shoulder to Shoulder Against Fascism” as the Spirit of Mustang Rises.

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The Spirit of Freedom Against Islamism.

Al Jazeera reports,

Turkish Radiohead fans attacked for ‘consuming alcohol’.

Turkish police have fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of people protesting after an attack on Radiohead fans for attending a listening party in an Istanbul record shop and “drinking beer” during Ramadan.

Unidentified attackers, apparently upset that people were listening to music and consuming alcohol during the Muslim holy month, forcibly entered the Velvet Indieground record shop, shouted at employees and beat fans of Radiohead with pipes on Friday, according to Turkish media reports.

Skirmishes between police and protesters broke out on Saturday near the shop as hundreds of people rallied against the previous night’s attack.

Several people were detained, the DPA news agency reported, while Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd.

The protesters shouted “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism!” and denounced President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a “thief” and a “killer”.

Last night I saw Mustang.

This film is the best I’ve seen this year.

The scene begins in North Turkey.

Emma Jones introduces the themes,

A family wants to find husbands for their five daughters – but this is no Pride and Prejudice. Instead, the storyline of Turkish-French movie Mustang, a first feature film by director Deniz Gamze Erguven, turns the desire to marry off the teenage sisters into a psychological thriller set in modern-day Turkey.

The film, nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, won five Cesar Awards in France and 2015’s Lux Prize – a cultural trophy given annually by the European Parliament to films tackling issues of social debate.

After the five girls are caught playing on a beach with local boys, their home turns into a prison, with bars on the windows, they are withdrawn from school, dressed conservatively, and marriages are arranged so no more “shame” is brought on the family.
However, the youngest girl, Lale, is determined not to lose her freedom, and she and her sisters begin to fight back.

In a powerful tribute to the strength of the human spirit Lale,  who loves football, is forbidden from attending Trabzonspor matches, resists her and her sisters’  oppression,  her patriarchal uncle’s physical and sexual abuse, and the religious rules of the prison-house.

Mustang is intimate, finely photographed, and scripted, and extremely funny.

Leaving the cinema in Ipswich people spoke of how brilliant the film was.

Many on the left, academics and those in some parties, think in terms of the ‘Other’. Having read this word in the blurb of a yellowing existentialist paperback they gauge events in countries like Turkey in terms of an opposition between ‘the’ West and ‘the’ Islamist world.

Tariq Ali, a romancer of sorts, has just written an introduction to a Kipling tale for Le Monde.

This may remind us of the imperialist’s famous lines, no doubt still resonating amongst those who view the world in terms of the ‘Other’.

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

 

That, cardboard deep poesy, was never true, as the history of  internationalism indicates.

Many of us have long shrugged off this approach.

We know people from the ‘East’ and the ‘West’.

We know that our lives are intermingled, that our ideas, our joys, our hopes, can meet and be celebrated together.

As Lale showed, and as our sisters in brothers in Istanbul show, our common fight against oppression, nationalism, religious bigotry, unites us.

As Turkey’s President Erdoğan wages war against our Kurdish comrades, as he prepares again to build a monument to Ottoman tyranny on Gezi Park, we know whose side we will be standing shoulder to shoulder with.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 19, 2016 at 10:38 am

Armenian Genocide Recognised by Germany: Turkey’s Indecent Response Knows no Bounds’

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A banner reading ‘Nuremberg says: The Bundestag is not a tribunal’ is held aloft during a protest in Berlin against the German parliament’s resolution condemning the Armenian genocide.

Turkish Banner Makes Reference to  Nuremberg to Dismiss Genocide Charge.

Deutsche Welle covers this historic vote,

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the leader of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, failed to attend the vote on account of other appointments. Critics have said, however, that they deliberately attempted to dodge a difficult vote. Chancellor Merkel did, however, announce after the passing of the resolution that the Bundestag decision to designate the Ottoman killings of Christian Armenians as genocide did not detract from Germany’s “amicable and strategic” relationship with Turkey.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian praised the decision as “Germany’s valuable contribution not only to the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, but also to the universal fight for the prevention of genocides, crimes against humanity.”

Reactions

Steinmeier told DW that the vote was an “independent decision by the German Bundestag”

“Turkey reacted as expected,” he added. “I hope that in the coming days we will be able to ensure there is not an overreaction.”

Recently elected Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim blamed “the racist Armenian lobby” for the passing of the resolution and announced that he has called Turkey’s Berlin ambassador Hüsein Avni Karslioglu to report in Ankara in response to the vote in the Bundestag. Yildirim claimed that Turkey had nothing in its past that it needed to be ashamed of.

“Ours is a country that prides itself with its past,” Yildirim said and added on Twitter that the resolution was “truly testing Germany’s friendship with Turkey.”

The co-leader of Germany’s Green party, Cem Özdemir, who has a Turkish background, told reporters that Germany was even involved in the massacres 101 years ago, highlighting that the German Empire at the time provided the Ottoman Empire with the weapons needed to carry out such war crimes. Özdemir added that the German Empire had also sent military consultants, who supported and fought with the Ottomans.

Green Party co-chair Cem Özdemir held an impassionate speech in the Bundestag calling for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians

“They knew exactly what was going on,” Özdemir said. “In this respect we’re guilty of complicity, and have to admit this.”

Armenian representatives  welcome the decision.

The report outlines the Turkish reaction,

Meanwhile Burhan Kuzu, a top member of the ruling AK Party, called ethnic Turkish members of the German parliament like Özdemir who voted for the bill “traitors” and added that they “should not set foot” back in Turkey.

The BBC adds this information:

In the latest response:Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim blamed a “racist Armenian lobby” for the resolution

The Guardian continues,

Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Berlin after German MPs approved a motion describing the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a century ago as genocide – a decision that the Turkish president said would “seriously affect” relations between the two countries.

The five-page paper, co-written by parliamentarians from the Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Green party, calls for a “commemoration of the genocide of Armenian and other Christian minorities in the years 1915 and 1916”. It passed with support from all the parties in parliament. In a show of hands, there was one abstention and one vote against.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, had voted in favour of the resolution during a test vote at a party meeting on Tuesday, but was absent from the actual vote on Thursday, as were the deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, and the minister for foreign affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Gregor Gysi of the Left party described Merkel’s absence as “not very brave”.

Complementing its reports on the decision,  Le Monde reminds us that Christians today face ethnic and religious cleansing and the threat of genocide from Islamists:

Le drame des chrétiens d’Orient

Written by Andrew Coates

June 2, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Stop War on Kurds: Thousands March in London.

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Photos from G.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Britain’s capital to express their indignation with the Ankara’s military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which heaps suffering on the Kurdish minority both in Turkey and beyond its borders.

The protest, organized by an activist group known as Stop War on Kurds, took place in central London on Sunday. People gathered at BBC Broadcasting House and then left for Trafalgar Square to start the rally.

Leeds Banner.

The protest action was triggered by the Turkish crackdown on the Kurdish minority which participants said goes “unreported in the UK press.” The group is “demanding the UK govt puts pressure on Turkey to stop these attacks,” a statement on the Stop War on Kurds Facebook page said.

Hundreds gather at Trafalgar Square protest calling to #StopWaronKurds in Turkey.

The Tendance feels this of great importance and only the fact that the train service from Ipswich to London was undergoing ‘works’ over the weekend which would turn a 1 hour journey into a 2 hour plus nightmare, stopped our  attendance.

Congratulations to the organisers!

Written by Andrew Coates

March 7, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Zaman Newspaper, Turkey: Erdoğan Takes Control of Critical Media.

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Police fired tear gas at protesters outside Zaman's offices on Friday night (4 March)

Saturday Protests at Erdoğan’s Islamist Government’s Takeover of Zaman.

Turkish police have raided the offices of Zaman, the country’s biggest newspaper, hours after a court ruling placed it under state control.

Police entered the building in Istanbul late on Friday, firing tear gas at protesters who had gathered outside.

Zaman is closely linked to the Hizmet movement of influential US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey says Hizmet is a “terrorist” group aiming to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Mr Gulen was once an ally of Mr Erdogan but the two fell out.

Many Hizmet supporters have been arrested.

The government in Ankara has come under increasing international criticism over its treatment of journalists.

The court ruled on Friday that Zaman, that has a circulation of some 650,000, should now be run by administrators. No explanation was given.

Later, hundreds of Zaman supporters gathered outside the newspaper’s offices to protest at the state takeover. One held a placard saying, “We will fight for a free press.”

Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

BBC

Police using tear gas and water cannon raided the headquarters of Turkey’s largest-circulation newspaper, hours after a court placed it under the management of trustees.

Police set up barricades on Saturday to keep out Zaman readers arriving at the building in a show of support.

The English-language Today’s Zaman Saturday edition, published before the forced take-over, printed its entire front page in black with the headline: “Shameful day for free press in Turkey.”

Prosecutors accused Zaman and its affiliates of praising and helping what they called a “terrorist organisation”.

“It has been a habit for the last three, four years, that anyone who is speaking against government policies is facing either court cases or prison, or such control by the government,” said Abdulhamit Bilici, editor-in-chief of Zaman.

“This is a dark period for our country, our democracy.”

Al Jazeera.

Before this seizure Zaman’s English language site published this:

Reactions have mounted in Turkey against a government-orchestrated move to seize the nation’s best-selling newspaper Zaman and its affiliate publications including Today’s Zaman as part of a crackdown on critical and independent media.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir spoke on Friday morning when the takeover of Zaman was still a rumor circulating on social media. Emir said that he saw the move as the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) trying to silence free and independent media.

Expressing that the media in Turkey faces new attacks every day, Emir said that the majority of these assaults were being done under the guise of the law. “We [CHP] condemn all attempts to subdue the free media. We are against all attacks [against the media] and believe these attacks must come to an end.”

Speaking to Zaman daily on Friday morning, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Ümit Özdağ, who recently resigned from his position as deputy chairman of the MHP said he cannot believe the government is going to take over the Zaman daily and its subsidiaries.

CHP deputy Akif Ekici said of the takeover that he believes the current government in Turkey has the potential to take over newspapers, appoint trustees to media organizations, and file people into jails. “I don’t know where this oppression will end though,” he said.

Several staunchly pro-government journalists have claimed that two critical journalists who were recently released from prison will be re-arrested and that the government will silence a major critical media outlet, while a Twitter whistleblower claimed that trustees had already been appointed to take over the media group.

Dündar and Gül were arrested on Nov. 26, 2015 on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, espionage and revealing confidential documents. The charges stem from a terrorism investigation launched after Cumhuriyet published photos in May 2015 of weapons it said were being transferred to Syria in trucks operated by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

Columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak from the pro-government Yeni Akit daily argued in a column on Thursday that Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül may be re-arrested at any time.

“The release of Can [Dündar] and his colleague from prison may be the start of a new series of unfortunate things for them. At least, they may be arrested again. They may face graver accusations with new information and documents,” Dilipak wrote.

Star Daily columnist Cem Küçük, who is known for his open threats against media moguls and journalists critical of the government, also voiced similar claims on Tuesday, arguing that “Dündar will face new and more solid indictments.”

Cumhuriyet’s Dündar and Gül were freed after a Constitutional Court ruling on Feb. 25, which said their imprisonment amounted to a violation of their rights.

Küçük also said, “according to information he obtained,” Feza Media Group, which also includes Today’s Zaman, will be seized by the government. He argued that trustees will be appointed to the group soon.

Also on Thursday, Twitter whistleblower Fuat Avni claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who “has no tolerance for any media group that would criticize his plans for a presidential switch,” ordered the seizure of Zaman daily, the main newspaper under the Feza Media Group.”

“He told off those who told him that there is no legal infrastructure to seize Zaman,” Avni claimed.

“He is taking the revenge for the Constitutional Court’s decision favoring the release of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. The order [to seize Zaman] has been sent to [his] men at the judiciary,” he further claimed.

“They arranged Prosecutor Fuzuli Aydoğdu and the 6th Penal Court of Peace. They made the court to appoint trustees to the Zaman daily,” Avni wrote on Twitter. Avni also argued that any resistance to the seizure of Zaman Media Group will be brutally supressed by the police.

President Erdoğan openly said on Sunday he does not obey or respect the decision by the Constitutional Court that declared that the imprisonment of the journalists amounted to a violation of their rights.

“The Constitutional Court may have reached such a verdict. I will remain silent. I am not in a position to accept it,” Erdoğan told reporters before departing for a visit to some West African countries. “I do not obey it nor do I respect it.”

Dündar and Gül were arrested on charges of espionage and aiding a terrorist organization in November after the publication of video footage purporting to show Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) helping to send weapons to Syria when they were intercepted in 2014 by gendarmerie forces. The arrest drew international condemnation and revived concern about media freedom in Turkey.

Erdoğan, who had described the interception of the MİT trucks as an act of espionage aimed at undermining Turkey internationally, vowed that Dündar and the newspaper would pay a “heavy price” for reporting on the incident. “I will not let him go [unpunished],” he said back in November.

Commenting on claims on more pressure on the critical media, Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Abdülhamit Bilici said it does not befit a country ruled by democracy and the law to discuss such attempts in 2016. “Such demands and illegal attempts [to silence critical media] are not allowed in countries where democracy and the laws are functioning. We regret to see such comments and claims,” he added.

Bilici further said on Twitter that he hopes these claims are not true. “If these disgusting claims are true, I am calling on all democrats to stand by press freedom,” he said.

This is the second time the Zaman daily has become the target of government-orchestrated raids, as on Dec. 14 along police raided the İstanbul headquarters of the daily detaining total of 31 suspects, including Zaman’s former Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı as part of a crackdown on dissenting media by the AK Party.

The Index on Censorship has launched a petition calling on an İstanbul court to reverse its decision to appoint trustees to Turkey’s largest daily, also urging President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stop crackdown on free media.

Petition calls on court to reverse decision on Zaman, urges Erdoğan to end crackdown on free press

“Join Index on Censorship, writers, journalists and artists from around the world to condemn the shocking seizure of Turkish independent media group, Zaman,” the change.orgpetition said.

“Today Turkey seized one of the country’s leading newspapers. In so doing, Turkey has confirmed that it is no longer committed to a free press, which is the bedrock of any democratic society. We, the undersigned, ask the court to reverse its decision to seize Zaman and urge the international community to speak out against Turkey’s repeated attempts to stifle a free and independent media,” it added.

Sign the Petition here: Petitioning President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: End Turkey’s crackdown on press freedom.

This crack down on critical media comes as the Erdoğan government wages war on the Kurds.

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Written by Andrew Coates

March 5, 2016 at 12:01 pm

UK Apologises to Turkey for Kurdish Protest at Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Visit

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London protest against Turkish PM Davutoglu invited by David Cameron

UK apologizes to PM Davutoğlu over pro-PKK protests in London: Anadolu Agency

Reports the Turkish English language site The Daily News.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has reported that U.K. authorities apologized to visiting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu for protests staged in London while he was holding an official meeting with his British counterpart, David Cameron, on Jan. 18.

Sajid Javid, the British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, visited Davutoğlu at the hotel where he was staying during his two-day visit to London to apologize about the protests, Anadolu Agency quoted anonymous prime ministerial sources as saying.

A group of supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had chanted slogans in favor of the group in front of Downing Street while Davutoğlu and Cameron were holding scheduled talks.

Anadolu Agency claimed that Javid said the protests were “unacceptable” and the U.K. would take “all necessary measures” to prevent such a situation from taking place again.

The Turkish authorities had earlier informed their British counterparts that not enough security measures were taken during the meeting.

Turkey, the European Union, and the United States officially consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, Anadolu Agency reported that Javid said Davutoğlu’s visit, together with a large retinue of businessmen, would contribute to a deepening of cooperation between the two countries on the subjects of innovation, research and trade.

Fracas (from Here)

The Kurdish Question has a different report.

Hundreds of Kurds gathered outside 10 Downing Street under heavy police presence today to protest at the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to London.

People began convening in front of the UK Prime Minister’s offices in the afternoon to protest the Turkish state’s recent atrocities against Kurdish civilians, which has left over 200 people dead, and whole neighbourhoods in ruins.

Protestors shouted, “Terrorist Turkish state,” “War criminal Davutoglu,” and “Shame on you Cameron.” Placards and banners at the demonstration read, “Murderer Davutoglu,” “Davutoglu=War Criminal ISIS Supporter,” and “Stop The Genocide.”

According to Turkish media Davutoglu met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss strengthening business ties between the two states and Turkey’s accession to the EU.

As Davutoglu’s convoy appeared at the gates of 10 Downing St many protestors broke the police cordon to vent their anger at the Turkish Prime Minister. Five demonstrators including our columnist Kurdish activist Mark Campbell were arrested in the ensuing fracas.

Demonstrators were very critical of the police’s approach from the beginning of the demonstration, as officers used heavy-handed tactics against protestors, physically abusing many people.

The five people, including two minors, who were arrested were taken to Charing Cross police station. One of the protestors has been released on bail while the others are still being held.

More pictures:at Demotix.

Update:  MARK CAMPBELL AND OTHER PROTESTORS RELEASED ON BAIL

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Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2016 at 12:20 pm