‘Erdogan, Trump want Dutch extradition of Turkish political refugee’

This video says about itself:

‘I was tortured in Turkey‘ – BBC News

28 November 2016

The UN’s special investigator on torture has arrived in Turkey following allegations of rape and abuse by the country’s security forces, after July’s failed coup. Tens of thousands of people have been jailed in a crackdown that has been condemned by activists and several western governments. Mark Lowen‘s report contains details some viewers may find disturbing.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

“Ankara wants the Netherlands to extradite Turkish activist”

Today, 14:17

The Turkish authorities are working on a request to the Netherlands to extradite a Turkish militant left-wing activist to Turkey. This report Associated Press and the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet on the basis of statements by an anonymous Turkish official. The USA is said to want to join in the request for extradition. …

According to the anonymous source, Turkey has determined that the woman fled from Greece to Netherlands. She would have been seen recently at a demonstration outside the German embassy in The Hague. …

Seher Demir Sen is known as one of the leaders of the outlawed DHKP-C, or the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front. Which is in Turkey, the US and the EU on the lists of terrorist organizations. …

The relationship between the Netherlands and Turkey has cooled considerably due to the Dutch refusal to have political speeches by Turkish ministers on Dutch soil. The Netherlands also criticizes the treatment of political dissidents and political prisoners by the Turkish judiciary.

Turkish government attacks universities

This video from the USA says about itself:

On February 13, 2017, San Francisco Labor Council delegates rallied in solidarity with the academics, teachers and journalists in Turkey at the council meeting.

Many signed a petition Rehire Fired Academics, Educators and Journalists in Turkey-Free Jailed Trade Unionists and Freedom For Academics and Journalists. Fifteen thousand teachers have been fired in a mass political purge.

The petition called for

1. The immediate rehiring of fired professors and teachers in public schools in Turkey.

2. An end to the repression and political purges of democratic dissent including the attacks on journalists who have been fired and jailed by the government.

3. For an end to US military and economic support to the Erdogan government, which is using this aid for further repression and militarization of the country.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Academic freedom must be defended

Saturday 18th March 2017

Rallying cry at conference after Turkish purge

ACADEMIC freedom in Turkey and Britain must be defended at all costs, a peace conference heard yesterday after thousands of Turkish academics have been sacked and hundreds put behind bars.

The Academics for Peace UK conference at Birbeck University, London, was held in memory of Mehmet Fatih Tras who committed suicide in February having been dismissed from his university post and denied other academic positions in the country for over a year.

Since the failed coup attempt of July 2016, thousands of academics in the country have been dismissed and hundreds thrown into prison.

More than 20 universities have been shut down and hundreds of academics have been forced to flee Turkey over fears for their safety.

Professor Naif Bezwan, who was dismissed from Mardin Artuklu University last August, told the Star how the purges of academics in Turkey are unprecedented.

“Compared with other oppressive regimes, in terms of numbers, we have not seen anything like this since the 1930s. This is a really widespread purge with deportations of critical intelligentsia.”

Mr Bezwan added: “Academic freedom should be defended at all costs in order to keep academic freedom in the UK.”

Campaign group Academics for Peace (BAK) was founded in January 2016 with the launch of a peace petition of over 2,000 signatories from 89 universities in Turkey calling on the government to bring a halt to the destruction and civilian killings being carried out in Kurdish towns and cities.

Conference organisers accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “instigating a campaign of persecution” against academics who had signed the petiton.

Over 700 BAK academics in Turkey have been subject to dismissal, disciplinary action, criminal prosecution and even detention.

University and College Union international spokesman Rob Copeland told the conference that solidarity work with academics in Turkey was a key priority for the union.

He said: “We have been letter writing and protesting but there is no response from the Turkish government” who refused to meet with representatives from the union and their Turkish counterparts.

Mr Bezwan stressed the importance of building support for academics in Turkey saying that “solidarity offers hope to those being persecuted.”

He also urged the British government to set up a fund to help those who have fled the country.

Stop migratory bird poaching in Turkey

This 2016 video is called Mesmerizing Storks Migrating Through Turkey.

From BirdLife:

1 March 2017

Help us tackle illegal killing of migratory birds in Turkey!

By Zeynep Karasin

Every year approximately 6.5 million soaring birds migrate between Europe, Asia and Africa using two major flyways crossing Anatolia. 2 million storks and raptors fly over İstanbul while 1.2 million raptors pass from the Batumi bottleneck and enter Anatolia from the north-east. Millions of ducks and geese also use these paths. Sadly large numbers of these birds are killed illegally and they also face other major threats such as electrocution, poisoning and collision with powerlines.

Doğa Derneği (Birdlife in Turkey) has been working on making Turkey safer for birds for more than 15 years and has developed significant projects on the ground both through education and enforcement. At the present Doğa Derneği’s team is working in South Eastern Turkey, especially in Urfa, Birecik, and the Hatay Amanos mountains and lakes region to ensure safe passage for migratory birds. They have set up educational programs to help the people in these regions understand the importance of keeping the flyways safe. The team has also developed a conservation program for six threatened steppic species with the support of local conservation groups from all over the country.

Due to the large number of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey and especially in the Urfa province where more than 400 000 refugees are based, Doğa Derneği has also started an educational program for refugees about migratory birds and how to keep them safe during their flyways. They have recruited a former Bald Ibis warden from Palmyra Syria who is now living in Urfa to join the local Doğa Derneği conservation group. These wardens have official authority to impose fines and work on stopping illegal hunters. With an Arabic-speaking person in the team, the wardens can work much more efficiently due to the fact that a native speaker can engage directly in the situation. Doğa Derneği has also started to visit schools at refugee camps to widen their educational program about illegal killing of birds.

The Champions of the Flyway (COTF) has recognized the importance of the work carried out by Doğa Derneği in tackling the illegal killing of birds in Turkey and will therefore this year donate the funding raised by COTF race teams to Doğa Derneği. The COTF campaign is an extraordinary bird race for conservation taking place annually, in the migration hotspot of Eilat, Israel. Race teams from all around the world unite to generate funding that results in direct conservation actions for birds across the Mediterranean flyway.

Thanks to funding that is currently being raised by the 2017 Champions of the Flyway campaign, Doğa Derneği will be able to:

• Develop and implement “Nature for All” training program in project areas,
• Work closely with Syrian teachers who are officially working at schools with Syrian students and invite them to Doğa’s Nature School,
• Establish a bird-watching group with Syrian children to monitor threatened species,
• Increase the awareness of Syrian refugees settled at two different refugee camps about Turkey’s and the region’s biodiversity, legal framework, threatened species etc.,
• Design and deliver posters and flyers on threatened species and Key Biodiversity Areas in Turkish, Arabic and Kurdish language,
• Prepare and disseminate a short movie in Turkish and Arabic to be screened at public places and Syrian refugee camps.

You can make a donation to support Doğa Derneği’s work to stop illegal killing of migratory birds in Turkey by clicking here.

Turkish journalists persecuted for journalism

This 2013 video from the USA is called Panel: What’s Happening in Turkey? (Noam Chomsky‘s Talk)

By Akin Olgun:

‘A journalist’s only weapon is the truth’

Saturday 11th February 2017

AKIN OLGUN writes on the oppression journalists face in Turkey and highlighs the case of his arrested friend Ahmet Sik

A JOURNALIST, describes the Turkish author and investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, is “one that seeks the truth.”

It wasn’t long before Sik experienced the danger that comes with chasing the truth in Turkey.

Living in an authoritarian country and going after the truth means you are risking your life.

When you look at the number of journalists killed in different countries, you may not see the terrifying methods of oppression used by the authoritarian regimes there. But you should realise that the most courageous journalists are found under those regimes.

Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist and editor of the Agos newspaper who was assassinated in January 2007, summarised the situation facing journalists in Turkey when he said: “Either I really liked danger, or it liked me.”

If you are chasing the truth and you reveal it without distorting it then you are in danger. No authoritarian regime likes to hear criticism and it always sees such things as a “threat.”

But the truth is a journalist’s only weapon. The fact that those in power are scared of the person who holds the truth shows us what an illusion that power actually is.

The early 1990s were dark and unforgiving times in Turkey. Anyone who lived through them will tell you about the extrajudicial executions, the kidnappings and the missing people, the villages that were burned down and the Kurds who were killed.

They will tell you how no-one questioned the violence of the state.

Renault’s symbol became a symbol of fear for dissenters. In these cars, the counterinsurgency kidnapped people, many of whom were never found.

Every week the families of those missing people, who came to be known as “Saturday Mums,” held a sit-in at the Galatasaray square in Istanbul. For over 600 weeks, they continued to ask about the fate of their loved ones.

The reason I write this flashback is to begin the story of how the Turkish authorities tried to silence and label Ahmet Sik a threat, all because he took his camera wherever there were extrajudicial killings or state violence.

Metin Goktepe, a journalist at the Evrensel newspaper, was a close friend of Ahmet’s. In January 1996, Goktepe was following the story of the funerals of political convicts who were killed in an operation at the Istanbul Umraniye prison.

He was detained by police and taken to the same gym where hundreds of people who wanted to attend the funerals were being held. The police beat and killed him.

Sik and Goktepe’s journalist friends fought to get justice and put those responsible behind bars.

In June 2011, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minster, described Sik’s unpublished book investigating the Gulen Movement’s infiltration of the judiciary, the police and the army as being more dangerous than a bomb. It was written during a time when the government and the Gulen Movement were allies conspiring together to conduct a witch hunt through illegal wiretapping and tracking. It was a time before the Gulen Movement was branded a terrorist organisation and blamed for the failed July 15 2016 coup.

Sik’s unpublished book, The Imam’s Army, landed him in jail for 375 days.

The reason Sik was released was because of the incessant campaigns from democracy groups and because the fight between the Gulen Movement and the government escalated, revealing cracks in their partnership.

Met by journalists at the doors of the prison upon his release, Sik said: “Everyone should know this. From all this oppression and persecution, a life that we yearn and fight for and a life that the government is scared of will blossom.”

After leaving the prison, Sik continued to chase news and write. The main media channels, that were under extreme pressure and control, found ways to keep him off the air and out of their papers. The method they used to do this was one of history’s most oppressive, censorship.

Sik began reporting on the jihadists crossing the Turkish border into Syria and investigating the forces that provided them with logistical support.

Right after, he started looking into the Turkish intelligence services and the government’s role in the shipment of arms across the border. This, once again, made him an enemy of the state.

He started receiving threats from those organising the shipments. He began noting down the people who would be responsible for things that might happen to him.

After spending time in London campaigning on the freedom of the press with the NGOs English PEN, Free World and Article 19, Sik returned to Turkey and found the country had been dragged into a new period of darkness.

Erdogan perceived the failed July 15 coup as “God’s gift” and used it as a chance to purge his erstwhile allies in the Gulen Movement. He did not hesitate to use this chance to label his political opponents terrorists and attack Kurds, opposition politicians, academics, journalists and writers.

Though the Gulen Movement had become enemy number one, its methods remained a friend of the government. Erdogan started taking away all democratic rights by implementing a state of emergency and issuing executive orders until “safety was restored.” What followed was Turkey’s largest state-sponsored witch hunt since the coup of September 12 1980.

Sik was once again a target. He knew that he would be arrested but he refused to stop seeking and reporting on the truth. “Just because we are worried,” he said, “doesn’t mean we have to hide the truth.”

On December 29 last year, Sik was once again detained by the police at his home. His ideas, his journalism and his social media feeds were classified as “terrorist propaganda” and used against him in court. Sik responded to questions by explaining what journalism is.

He told his prosecutors: “I believe that sharing the truth with the public without distorting or betraying it is a duty…

“It is a right for the public to know the truth and this right has been entrusted to the journalist.”

In 2011 Sik was arrested by Gulenists for exposing their corruption and brutality, but this time he is accused of operating terrorist propaganda in support of the Gulen movement.

Those who accused him realised that their accusations sound ridiculous and so have added support of the Kurdistan Workers Party to their accusations.

Ahmet Sik is currently still in jail.

According to data from the Journalists Association of Turkey, 780 journalists’ press cards were cancelled in 2016.

Over 800 journalists had to go in front of a judge because of what they wrote while 189 journalists were physically and verbally attacked. Over 150 publications have been shut down and over 140 journalists are under arrest.

In addition, 14 members of parliament from the HDP opposition, including the party’s co-leaders and 37 mayors, are in prison.

“Even under different gods, fascism is the only religion that doesn’t change,” tweeted Sik recently. I should add that there is now a separate case against him because of these words.

What can we do? That was the question.

There is only one thing. To tell the truth at the top of our voice.

“The emperor has no clothes.”

Akin Olgun is a Turkish freelance journalist and former political prisoner living in exile from Turkey.