Turkish government makes half a million people homeless

This video says about itself:

BBC World News – Amnesty urges Turkey to pay compensation to displaced Kurds

7 December 2016

Thousands of people have fled the historic Sur district of Diyarbakir, in south-eastern Turkey, because of fighting. Most of Sur – a Unesco world heritage site – lies in ruins after clashes between Turkish troops and the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Amnesty International has urged Turkey to pay compensation to those who fled areas under curfew. It estimates the total of displaced people in the conflict zone to be half a million. My report from Diyarbakir.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Half a million people forced out of their homes by Turkish government repression

TENS of thousands of residents of the UNESCO world heritage site of Sur are among an estimated half a million people forced out of their homes as a result of a brutal crackdown by Turkish authorities over the past year which may amount to collective punishment, said Amnesty International in a new report.

Sur is the central district of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the predominantly Kurdish south-east of Turkey. Its ancient fortified walls and adjacent Hevsel Gardens were designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2015.

As the suppression of opposition Kurdish voices by the Turkish government intensifies, the report Displaced and dispossessed: Sur residents’ right to return home, reveals the desperate plight of families forced out of the historical centre of Diyarbakir as a result of intensive security operations towards the end of last year and an ongoing round-the-clock curfew.

Homes in the once-bustling district have been destroyed by shelling, demolished and expropriated to pave the way for a redevelopment project that very few former residents are likely to benefit from.

‘A year after a round-the-clock curfew was imposed in Sur, thousands of people remain displaced from their homes, struggling to make ends meet and facing an uncertain future in an increasingly repressive atmosphere,’ said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

He added: ‘Whilst the crackdown on civil society in south-eastern Turkey has been widely reported, there has been little coverage of the forced displacement which has devastated the lives of ordinary people under the pretext of security.’

Following the breakdown of a ceasefire in July 2015, clashes broke out between people affiliated to the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces. In response to declarations of ‘self-governance’, the building of barricades and digging of trenches in Sur, the central district of Diyarbakir, and other towns across the south-east, authorities began imposing 24-hour curfews and carrying out heavily militarised security operations.

On 11 December 2015, an indefinite 24 hour curfew was declared in six of Sur’s 15 neighbourhoods preventing people from leaving their homes even to buy essential food or medical supplies.

Police reportedly used loudspeakers to order people to leave. Water and electricity were cut for extended periods, while homes were rocked by army shells and peppered with bullets. One woman who attempted to stay in her home told Amnesty International: ‘I was in the house with two children, we didn’t drink water for one week. One day a (tear) gas capsule was fired into the house. We didn’t have electricity for 20 days. I wanted to leave but I had nowhere to go.’

The clashes in Sur ended in March 2016, but the curfew has remained in large parts of the district. Following the forced evictions almost all properties have been expropriated by Turkish authorities with many buildings also demolished.

Although return has been made almost impossible by the curfew and the destruction, some residents have ventured back only to find their homes ransacked and possessions looted or destroyed. One man returned to his home eight months after being displaced to find all of its walls had collapsed.

He told Amnesty International: ‘I can’t even cry any more. I have cried so much over losing my house.’ Police forced another man to leave his home, together with his father and brother, before detaining them. He told Amnesty International: ‘They forced us to leave with guns to our heads’.

All three of them were initially charged with terrorism offences but the charges have subsequently been dropped. When he returned to his home he found that his possessions had been burnt. A woman told Amnesty International that she was harassed by the police when she visited her home six months after being forced to leave, and is not planning to go back. ‘We found all our belongings broken and piled up in in the courtyard,’ she said.

Her family were offered 3,000TL (around 800 euros) compensation for the loss of their possessions, a fraction of what they were worth. Her daughter-in law said: ‘We were going to appeal but they said that this is all we would get, so we signed.’

Displaced residents have been unable to find adequate alternative housing that is affordable and have struggled to access essential services. Many lost their jobs when they were displaced and children have had their education severely disrupted or have dropped out of school altogether.

Grossly inadequate compensation and a failure by authorities to provide sufficient – or in some cases any – rent assistance has pushed already impoverished families into greater hardship. To compound the situation, the targeting of Kurdish opposition voices following the coup attempt has meant that NGOs providing vital support for poor and displaced people have now been shut down.

Residents reject government claims that the ongoing curfew and house demolitions are being done in the interest of security given that the clashes finished over eight months ago. Instead they see them as part of a calculated plan to redevelop their neighbourhoods and resettle them elsewhere.

An urban regeneration project first aired in 2012 has been resurrected, but details remain scant and residents have not been consulted. This follows a pattern of such projects in Turkey which have forcibly evicted residents who are never able to return home.

‘On the bitter anniversary of the curfew in Sur, much of the population of this world heritage site have been forced to look on as their own heritage has been bulldozed,’ said John Dalhuisen. He continued: ‘Shockingly, the desperate situation facing the displaced residents of Sur is mirrored in dozens of other districts across south-east Turkey.

‘The government must act urgently to lift the curfew, ensure affected communities are fully compensated and either helped to return to what remains of their homes or, at the very least, to their neighbourhoods.’

Many of the people in Sur came there after being forced to evacuate from rural villages during the conflict in the 1980s and 1990s. Forced relocations by Turkey’s security forces at that time resulted in Diyarbakir’s population more than doubling in size.

Under the state of emergency introduced following the July coup-attempt, the human rights situation in the south-east of Turkey has deteriorated. A series of executive decrees has all but eliminated opposition Kurdish voices, shutting down media and NGOs.

Elected mayors, including those for Sur and Diyarbakir, were replaced with government-appointed trustees. In November, hundreds of NGOs across Turkey were closed on the unspecified grounds of ‘links to terrorist organisations’ or ‘threats to national security’.

Among the NGOs that were closed were the main ones providing assistance to families displaced from Sur. The figure of at least half-a-million people displaced in the south-east is an estimate based on the size of the populations in areas placed under long-term curfews, reported proportions of residents forced to flee and the level of destruction to homes and infrastructure in these areas.

Turkey is a party to a number of international and regional human rights treaties which require it to respect people’s rights to freedom of movement, adequate housing and other economic and social rights, as well as provide effective remedies for victims of human rights violations.

Much torture in Turkish prisons

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:

“Much torture in Turkish prisons weeks after coup”

Today, 19:21

In the days and weeks following the coup in Turkey it looks like detainees have widely been tortured and mistreated. That concludes the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer after a six-day visit to Turkey. There he spoke with authorities and prisoners.

The torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners was encouraged by the special security measures after the coup of July 15, Melzer told news agency AP.

So someone can be held thirty days before a judge decides whether he should be detained any longer. And in the first five days after a person is arrested, he has no right to a lawyer. “Right then, the risk of torture and inhumane treatment is greatest,” said Melzer.

Zero-tolerance policy

Formally, Turkey regarding torture has a zero-tolerance policy, but allegations of torture are not investigated, said Melzer. Lawyers’ organizations that gathered evidence about police misconduct have been banned.

Human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said this autumn already that Turkey tortures prisoners.

Amnesty says that happened even before the coup, especially in the Kurdish southeast of Turkey. “But after July 15 we saw an explosion,” said an Amnesty researcher to AP.

Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart jailed

This 2011 video is an animated cartoon by Musa Kart, called (translated) If Einstein would teach in Turkey.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Cartoonists’ tribute to detained Turk

Thursday 24th November 2016

BRITISH cartoonists led by Martin Rowson gave a standing ovation in solidarity with detained Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart, who faces jail for sedition.

The tribute was paid on Tuesday night at the annual Cartoon Art Trust awards held at the Mall Galleries in central London.

British Cartoonists’ Association chairman Mr Rowson reminded the 160 people attending the awards dinner that at the end of a turbulent year for both Britain and the world, it was “more important than ever to fight for the freedom to laugh in order to stop us all going mad in the face of events.”

Mr Kart was among journalists from the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet rounded up by the Turkish authorities last month accused of crimes in support of forces behind the July coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After paying tribute to the cartoonists murdered in the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, Mr Rowson told the audience of cartoonists, politicians, journalists and cartoon fans about the plight of Mr Kart, who faces up to 43 years in prison.

He then invited everyone to stand and applaud Mr Kart as an act of solidarity and support for “the twin freedoms of speech and laughter” — which the whole room did for several minutes.

Turkish officials initially reacted to Trump’s election by escalating the drive towards authoritarian forms of rule: here.

‘Turkey, a police state’

This video says about itself:

Julie Ward, Labour MEP for the North West of England, speaks about the situation of journalists in Turkey in the European Parliament on 26th October 2016.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

MEP Ward calls for sanctions on ‘police state’ of Turkey

Wednesday 23rd November 2016

LABOUR MEP Julie Ward has called for sanctions against Turkey after experiencing at first hand the intimidation and harassment dished out to opponents by the Erdogan regime.

She was denied access to jailed opposition MP Leyla Birlik on her visit to Turkey on Monday.

Ms Ward described how Turkey is becoming a “paranoid police state governed by fear” after her vehicle was stopped and searched by armed police.

Military police ordered her and the group she was with — including a lawyer, Ms Birlik’s parliamentary assistant and an interpreter — to stay away from the prison until they could prove they had official state permission to make a visit.

Ms Birlik is one of 10 politicians from the pro-minority Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) jailed by the Turkish state in a crackdown on opposition that has seen the imprisonment of 142 journalists, thousands of government workers, lawyers, academics and the closure of 370 non-governmental organisations, a number of TV stations and opposition newspapers.

She has paired with Ms Birlik as part of an international campaign of solidarity with arrested MPs.

Ms Ward accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “waging war on his own fellow countrymen in a systematic deconstruction of democracy.”

Speaking to the Star, Ms Ward said: “I attended a women’s conference on Saturday, where there was singing and dancing. They are so strong and won’t be beaten, but many are expecting a knock at the door in the middle of the night and to be arrested.

Erdogan is forcing a crackdown on the voice of women and the right of women to participate in public life.”

She warned that the actions of the Turkish state in silencing opposition is “the way that genocide starts.” The attacks on NGOs and MPs are well planned and Ms Ward says the state “couldn’t do this without lists of people and organisations.”

She said the whole population had been cowed into silence. “They can’t protest and know communications are being monitored.”

Ms Ward said there should be a “campaign for sanctions against Turkey,” and that people should question going on holiday to Turkey as by doing so they are funding a brutal regime.

HUNDREDS of people protesting in front of Turkey’s parliament building in Ankara burst into celebrations yesterday after the government announced the withdrawal of its proposal to exonerate child rapists: here.

Rape legalised in Turkey?

This video says about itself:

15 February 2015

Women have taken to the streets across Turkey to denounce the brutal murder of a student, killed after allegedly resisting a rape attempt by a minibus driver.

Three men have been arrested in connection with the death of Ozgecan Aslan, 20, whose burnt body was found in a riverbed in the southern city of Mersin.

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Turkish proposal: marrying after abusing minors

Today, 19:59

Members of the Turkish ruling party AKP have proposed a bill, in which men accused of sexual abuse might marry their underage victims under certain conditions.

Thus they could evade prosecution. The proposal was already adopted by the Turkish Parliament in a first round of voting.

The opposition and human rights organizations have expressed strong criticism. They say that the proposal amounts to amnesty for rape and legalizing child marriages. They are afraid that the new law will be used to enforce marriages.

Over the last decade violence against women has increased in Turkey, the BBC writes. Critics of the government of President Erdogan accusing them that they are increasingly trying to force women into a subordinate role.