Jail sentences for 27 peace academics

Prosecuted for having signed the peace declaration titled, “We will not be party to this crime,” 27 peace academics have been handed down jail sentences.

The joined case of 27 academics being prosecuted for having signed the peace declaration titled, “We will not be party to this crime” was heard at Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 33. The court handed down sentences of one year and ten months to one group of the academics and two years and three months to another group.

The hearing was held at Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 33 of the joined case of Prof. Dr. Hülya Kirmanoğlu, retired Assoc. Prof. Dr. Haydar Durak, Assistant Prof. Dr. Nihan Aksakallı, Assistant Prof. Dr. Doğan Çetinkaya, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ahmet Bekmen, doctorate student İrfan Keşoğlu and Assistant Prof. Dr. İlkay Yılmaz of Istanbul University; Prof. Dr. Erol Katırcıoğlu, Prof. Dr. Yüksel Taşkın, doctorate student Cihan Yapıştıran, Dr. Ayşe Nilüfer Durakbaşa and Assistant Prof. Dr. Özgür Müftüoğlu of Marmara University; Research Assistant Seçkin Sertdemir, Assoc. Prof. Dr. F.A.A., Research Assistant Gözde Aytemur Nüfusçu and Research Assistant Eda Aslı Şeran of Galatasaray University; Assoc. Prof. Dr. İsmet Akça of Yıldız Technical, Prof. Dr. Meltem Ahıska of Bosphorous University; Faculty Member Elif Akçalı and Assistant Prof. Dr. Öznur Yaşar Diner of Kadir Has University; Prof. Dr. Zeynep Tül Süalp of Bahçeşehir University; Assistant Prof. Dr. Aysuda Kölemen, Assistant Prof. Dr. T.D. and Faculty Member Esra Kaliber of Kemerburgaz University; Faculty Member İlkay Özkuralpli and Faculty Member Remzi Orkun Güner of Arel University, Assoc. Prof.  Dr. Y.Y. from Koç University and Assistant Prof. Dr. N.M. from Nişantaşı University. The hearing, at which eighteen academics and their lawyers were in attendance, was not attended by academics Seçkin Sertdemir Özdemir, İlkay Yılmaz, Tuba Demirci Yılmaz, Eda Aslı Şeran, Zeynep Tül Süalp, Esra Kaliber, Doğan Çetinkaya, Aysuda Kölemen and N.M.


Academic Yüksel Taşkın’s lawyer Adil Demirci made a written submission to the court applying to submit a plea of unconstitutionality. Arguing that Article 7/2 of the Counterterrorism Law that provides for “terrorist organization propaganda” is contrary to articles of the Constitution, Demirci sought the making of application to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of the article and for a stay of the proceedings until the reply was forthcoming. Meltem Ahıska’s lawyer Alp Tekin Ocak, in turn, called for the file to be sent to the Ministry of Justice to obtain permission under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and for a stay of proceedings until the reply was forthcoming. Ocak additionally applied for joinder with the file of four academics whose cases were pending before Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 13. To attorney Meriç Eyüboğlu, who applied for the video link to be turned on at the hearing, the presiding judge asked, “Did you make a written submission?” Eyüboğlu said that there was no such requirement. To this, the presiding judge said, “Please proceed. I will have it taken down that I approve.” Eyüboğlu also requested application to the Constitutional Court in respect of unconstitutionality and for enlargement of the examination. The hearing prosecutor sought the dismissal of the applications “in view of the current evidentiary situation in the case and the stage reached by the case.” With the court granting the application for the turning on of the video link, it dismissed the other applications. The prosecutor then gave his recommendations on the merits and sought the punishment of the 27 academics for the crimes with which they are charged.


Following the lawyers’ applications, the court moved on to the academics’ statements on the merits. Academic Hülya Kirmanoğlu stated her lawyer was at another hearing and said she wanted to make her defence later. The presiding judge said, “We rejected your lawyers’ reasons for absence. Please proceed with your defence.” Kirmanoğlu submitted her defence to the court. Rejecting the charges laid, Kirmanoğlu asked to be acquitted. Academic Haydar Durak included the following in his statement, “We simply wanted peace. Wanting peace is not a crime anywhere. But our colleagues have been punished in different courts. I do not wish for you to be party to this erroneous decision.” Academic Özgür Müftüoğlu said, “I demanded the universal right of peace in compliance with the law. Frankly, I still think we will not be punished because there exists no crime. I think the granting of deferment of sentence restricts the right of defence and I do not consent to it.” Following the academics’ statements, the attorneys submitted their defences on the merits and asked for their clients to be acquitted.


Finding thirteen academics guilty of “making terrorist organization propaganda,” the court handed down the maximum sentences sought of one year ten months and fifteen days.

Awarding contrasting sentences of two years and three months to fourteen academics the court’s grounds were as follows: “It having been ascertained that they committed the offence of making terrorist organization propaganda, for them to be sentenced to one year and six months each with it deemed appropriate from the contents of the file to apply a penalty that deviates from the bottom limit in accordance with the defendants’ acts taking into consideration the manner in which the offence was committed, the significance and value of what was involved in the offence, the place and time at which the offence was committed, the gravity of the defendants’ intention-based fault, the gravity of the danger posed, the defendants’ positions and the principles of justice and equity; and, with it ascertained that the offence was committed through the press and publication, for an extension to be made and a sentence of one year fifteen months to be imposed.” No reduction was made to the sentence on the grounds of “the defendants’ failure to engage in sincere contrition and their demeanour and actions due to their conduct following the act and during the proceedings.”

Since the sentences were of more than two years, suspension and deferment of sentence were not applied.

Translated by: Tim Drayton

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Maintaining heightened political tension is the most important weapon of the Erdoğan-Bahçeli alliance

The bringing to prominence of both Cumhuriyet and the “Gezi trial” on the eve of the elections is most certainly no coincidence and it would be no mistake to view it.

Under normal conditions, even in Turkey, the political climate would soften as elections approached. Events such as protests, meetings and rallies, which normally encountered various difficulties, did not encounter them at election times and the administration would adopt a more tolerant line towards disapproval-expressing actions of this kind. Indeed, certain circles even harboured expectations of a “pardon” prior to elections!

However, in recent years the AKP-MHP alliance, it having dawned on them that they cannot take the country to the “single party single man regime” under ordinary conditions, has made heightening political tension in the country the chief policy. So, in election periods we witness a special stoking up of tension and all actions that are not to the ruling entity’s liking being met with very harsh accusations such as “insurrection,” “treason,” “cooperation with terrorism” and “espionage.”


As the election draws near, the tension in the political environment and the suppression of “opposition” circles increase. Even commonplace reactions or partial opposition to the ruling entity accelerate police violence and the taking of decisions based on ideological rather than legal grounds by prosecutors and courts.

Indeed, with the election so close, the local court’s decision was upheld by the Regional Appeal Court resulting in the rejailing of those released journalists in the Cumhuriyet newspaper trial who had been sentenced to less than five years (the Court of Cassation will rule on those sentenced to more than five years).

Also, the day before yesterday, an indictment was drafted seeking aggravated life imprisonment for Osman Kavala, who has been in detention for a period of more than a year without even knowing what he was charged with, along with fifteen people including actors and journalists like M. Ali Alabora and Can Dündar. Moreover, an incredible claim that “they aided the Gezi resistance” lies at the heart of the accusations against Kavala and the journalists, arts world people and human rights advocates included in the case. Because “the Gezi resistance was an insurrection against the government!” This is the conclusion that prosecutors, looking into the eyes of the political rulership, have reached six years after Gezi!

And, the bringing to prominence of both Cumhuriyet and the “Gezi trial” on the eve of the elections is most certainly no coincidence and it would be no mistake to view it as betokening the desire for them to be made instrumental in heightening political tension “one further notch.”


We saw in the 24 June elections and we also clearly see in the process unfolding before us just now in the local elections to be held in 37 days that Erdoğan retains no concerns about winning the votes of the segments of the population that have not previously voted for his policies. On the contrary, his basic effort since the 16 April referendum (we can also say since the 7 June election) has been to maintain his “hairbreadth” difference that is also shored up by the tainted monkey business in the referendum! If he can hang on to this difference, he thinks this will secure him enough votes to make do with, with the added use of media and state resources and with the “threats” and “impositions” he will make.

Erdoğan clearly proclaimed where he had set the bar in the local election with words amounting to, “Let’s consolidate the AKP and MHP vote and this is good enough for us” in a speech he made the day before yesterday.

However, it is also beyond doubt that when the dead ends into which they have dragged the country in domestic and foreign policy are combined with the ever deepening economic crisis into which the AKP government’s economic policies of seventeen years have dragged the country, these developments have given rise to dissatisfaction of a magnitude previously non-existent among the working people who voted AKP on 24 June.

Despite the covering up of the truth with the ruling entity’s massive media power and the resemblance the “Nation Alliance” is taking to the “People’s Alliance” and its efforts to compete over antidemocratic and graft-based municipal practices, it is a fact that “consolidating” the AKP and MHP’s 24 June vote will be pretty tough.


Here, of course, the question may come to mind of, “Well, will the political environment return to ‘normal’ after the election?” There are claims among both media and politics folk that everything will return to its “normal” course following the election. But, if this is not a claim aimed at skewing the people’s consciousness, it betrays extreme naivety. For, the most important weapon in the hands of the “People’s Alliance” serving the aim of the “single party single man regime” is to maintain heightened political tension and intimidate its opponents using all the state and media resources at its disposal.

And this means that the ruling entity will be more partisan in its use of oppression and police, judicial and domestic and foreign military operations to quell opposition responses. Moreover, such an environment of political tension has become an existential requirement for them.

Approached from this angle, the only thing that will slow them down – even if they don’t take a step back – and make things easier after the election for the forces opposed to the “single man regime” will be the “People’s Alliance” emerging from the local election dazed from the slap they have received from the people.

Consequently, in the local election, while on the one hand certainly stressing the slogan, “No vote for the People’s Alliance,” it is vital over and beyond this for there to be a gearing of the post-election period towards organizing the labour struggle to fight to reject the burden of the crisis, and election campaigning towards renewing the democracy and freedom struggle in opposition to the “single party single man regime.”

Article by: Ihsan Caralan

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Candidates and alliances for local elections in Turkey on March 31

Aggravated life imprisonment is being sought for sixteen people including Osman Kavala under the investigation conducted into the Gezi Park Resistance.

The investigation involving sixteen people, including Osman Kavala who has been in prison for fifteen months and actor Mehmet Ali Alabora, into the Gezi Park events has been completed. Aggravated life imprisonment is sought for the sixteen people in the indictment on the charge of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey.” The Gezi resistance was described as an “insurrection” in the indictment. President Erdoğan is among the complainants in the case.

The investigation into the Gezi Park resistance involving sixteen people including such figures as Osman Kavala, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Can Dündar and Mücellla Yapıcı has been completed. Ten charges have been laid against the sixteen.

In the indictment in which aggravated life imprisonment is sought for everyone on the charge of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey,” jail terms of various lengths are also sought for some of the suspects on such allegations as “damaging property,” “unauthorized possession of dangerous substances,” “damaging places of worship and graveyards,” “breach of the firearms law,” “aggravated looting” and “aggravated battery.”


The Gezi Park resistance was described in the indictment as an “attempted insurrection.”

It is alleged in the indictment that the suspects commenced directing the Gezi resistance as of 2011. “Acts of securing finance and coordination” for the Gezi resistance have been put at issue in the indictment. The indictment states that the “suspects” were included among the top leadership of these events and are thus held accountable for the acts of “violence” that thereby occurred throughout the country.


An apprehension warrant has been issued for six people, including Can Dündar.

Those named in the apprehension warrant are:

  • Ayşe Pınar Alabora
  • Can Dündar
  • Memet Ali Alabora
  • Gökçe Yılmaz Handan
  • Meltem Arıkan Hanzade
  • Hikmet Germiyanoğlu


Included in the indictment are 746 complainants, including the members of the cabinet at the time and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.


It was recalled in the indictment that Yiğit Aksakoğlu and Osman Kavala are currently in detention. The others apart from Kavala and Aksakoğlu will seemingly not be held in detention pending trial. The 657-page indictment has been sent to Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 30. If the indictment is accepted, the suspects will appear before the judges in the coming days.


The following sixteen are named as “suspects” in the 657-page indictment:

  • Osman Kavala
  • Ali Hakan Altınay
  • Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı
  • Ayşe Pınar Alabora
  • Can Dündar
  • Çiğdem Mater Utku
  • Gökçe Yılmaz
  • Handan Meltem Arıkan
  • Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu
  • İnanç Ekmekci
  • Memet Ali Alabora
  • Mine Özerden
  • Şerafettin Can Atalay
  • Tayfun Kahraman
  • Yiğit Aksakoğlu
  • Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi


Can Atalay, Attorney-at-Law, speaking to Evrensel about this matter, said, noting that there was an exercising of constitutional rights by millions of people during the Gezi resistance, “If the matter comes to whether or not we think about whether the government should resign, demanding a change of government is the most democratic of rights in democracies. Gezi is the hope for the future of this land. It cannot be besmirched with mindboggling allegations.”


In an interview she gave Evrensel, Mücella Yapıcı opined that the quest for punishment was “a conspiracy hatched to criminalize Gezi.” Yapıcı commented, “We were tried and acquitted in this matter. The whole world knows that this is an allegation with an eye on the elections having no connection with the law to criminalize Gezi and to intimidate and threaten people. The indictment has not yet come into our hands. Under interrogation, we underwent ten and a half hours of interrogation based on unlawful and procedurally non-compliant wiretaps. Since the indictment is not yet available we cannot say anything, either. It is an operation to criminalize Gezi. It is something that has not yet successfully been comprehended. There was nobody directing and controlling Gezi. It was a popular movement and popular objection.”


Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager Andrew Gardner, in a statement he made about news of the indictment in which the sentencing is sought of Osman Kavala and fifteen civil society figures on the charge of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey” and which was submitted to the court today, noted that it was actually the authorities who denied fundamental rights and police violence that should be on trial.

Gardner said the following:

“These outlandish allegations are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence some of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures who now face the prospect of being tried by Turkey’s deeply flawed justice system.

Almost six years after the Gezi Park protests saw tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting against state repression, this indictment – if accepted by the court – could see the accused facing a lifetime behind bars without the possibility of parole.

The Gezi protests were overwhelmingly peaceful with people simply exercising their rights. They were met by arbitrary and abusive force by police. It should be the authorities’ denial of these rights and the police violence against peaceful protestors that should be examined by the courts, not these 16 civil society figures who have not committed any crime.

These charges must be dropped and Osman Kavala, who has been in jail on pretrial detention for almost 16 months, and Yiğit Aksakoğlu, who has been in prison for four months, must be immediately released.”

Translated by Tim Drayton

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Affirmatory ruling in Cumhuriyet trial: Eight people back to jail

The Appeal Court has upheld the sentences handed down in the Cumhuriyet newspaper trial. The ruling sees eight people who were sentenced to less than five years returning to prison.

The Appeal Court has upheld the sentences that Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27 imposed on Cumhuriyet newspaper’s former managers and columnists. The ruling sees eight people who were sentenced to less than five years going back to jail. Those who received sentences of longer than five years have the right to apply for review to the Court of Cassation.

It was noted in the decision that the Appeal Prosecutor was also entitled to apply to the Court of Cassation over the three defendants whose acquittal had been ordered. It was stated in the ruling that the sentences of the defendants who had been handed down prison terms of less than five years had attained finality with this affirmatory ruling.

In the Cumhuriyet newspaper trial, the Appeal Court found the conviction ruling handed down by Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27 to be legally compliant and upheld it.

From information supplied to Evrensel by one of the Cumhuriyet trial lawyers, Abbas Yalçın, those awarded sentences of more than five years have the right to review before the Court of Cassation. Hence, those sentenced to more than five years will not go to jail because their convictions have not yet attained finality.

The names of those whose appeal cases will continue before the Court of Cassation are:

  • Ahmet Şık
  • Akın Atalay
  • Murat Sabuncu
  • Aydın Engin
  • Orhan Erinç
  • Hikmet Çetinkaya

The names of those who will return to jail are:

  • Kadri Gürsel
  • Bülent Utku
  • Güray Öz
  • Önder Çelik
  • Mustafa Kemal Güngör
  • Musa Kart
  • Hakan Kara
  • Emre İper

Cartoonist Musa Kart said in a social media post: “A comment has come from the ruling party that is expected to create a solution to the ongoing crises: Throw the cartoonist back inside! Yes, the road to prison beckons for me once more. Take care of yourselves.”

For his part, columnist Güray Öz wrote, “The appeal court has upheld the convictions of Cumhuriyet newspaper’s columnists and managers. You know I am among them. Never mind, I have made the final corrections to my novel. We will be unable to see one another for a while. Farewell.”


From the account given by DHA, the court stated in its ruling, noting that Ahmet Şık, who was elected to parliament in the 24 June elections, was not an MP on the dates on which the crime was committed and the judgment was passed, that Şık could not invoke the legislative immunity provided for in Article 83/2 of the Constitution.


Posting a comment following the Appeal Court’s affirmation of the judgments, Amnesty International Turkey Branch Strategy and Research Manager Andrew Gardner said, “Today’s ruling to send the former Cumhuriyet staff back to prison exposes yet again the way in which politically motivated trials and unsound court decisions are simply rubber stamped by an equally biased appeals process.”

Stating that the prosecution of scores of journalists and other media workers was on ongoing affront to press freedom and justice, Gardner commented, “By using the courts to increase their stranglehold on the media, the authorities have once again displayed the ugly side of Turkey’s broken judicial system. This should ring alarm bells for anyone who cares about freedom of expression.”


Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27 pronounced its judgment at the hearing dated 25 April 2018 in the trial in which former columnists and managers of Cumhuriyet newspaper were being prosecuted. The paper’s former Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay was handed down a sentence of seven years, thirteen months and fifteen days on the count of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization while not being a member.” Atalay was released in conjunction with the judgment. The paper’s Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, reporter Ahmet Şık and columnist Aydın Engin were each awarded sentences of seven and a half years, while Cumhuriyet Foundation Management Board Chair Orhan Erinç and columnist Hikmet Çetinkaya both received jail terms of six years and three months on the same count.

On the count of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization while not being a member,” Bülent Utku, Attorney-at-Law, readers’ representative Güray Tekin Öz, Cumhuriyet Foundation manager Önder Çelik, cartoonist Musa Kart and Mustafa Kemal Güngör were each sentenced to three years and nine months and columnist Kadri Gürsel was awarded jail time of two and a half years.

Yusuf Emre İper was sentenced to three years one month and fifteen days on the count of “making terrorist organization propaganda,” while Ahmet Kemal Gündoğdu, accused of using the Twitter account named jeansbiri, received a ten-year jail term on the count of “membership of a terrorist organization.” The acquittal was ordered of Turan Güney, Bülent Yener and Günseli Özaltay.

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Candidates and alliances for local elections in Turkey on March 31

The period set by the SEC for announcing local election candidates has ended. Final adjustments have been made to the alliances.

Birkan BULUT

The Supreme Electoral Council (SEC)’s deadline for nominating local election candidates has ended. The picture to emerge following last-minute adjustments is that the AKP-MHP has broadened the alliance as its electoral support wilts. With the CHP and Good Party forging an alliance in many places with an eye on the nationalist vote, the HDP, conversely, has not fielded candidates in many metropolitan cities such as İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir Mersin and Adana so as to weaken the AKP-MHP block.


The People’s Alliance, having continued with its ups and downs following the 24 June elections, embarked on its endeavours for the 31 March local elections in thirty metropolitan cities and Erdoğan’s home town of Rize and Bahçeli’s home town of Osmaniye. The AKP and MHP block, targeting the CHP and Good Party alliance with talk of the latter having “made an alliance with the HDP,” has done its utmost to hush and patch up the cracks between them. With President Erdoğan frequently urging his party to avoid rhetoric harmful to the alliance, those expressing disapproval have been ousted from office, as in Samsun.

The alliance talks that restarted at the beginning of February saw a further widening in view of the risks and wilting vote witnessed in certain provinces. The two parties are cooperating in 21 provinces in addition to the 30 metropolitan cities. This thus brings to 51 the number of provinces in which the election is being contested under alliance.

The AKP has not fielded candidates in Osmaniye, Kars, Kırklareli and Iğdır where the MHP has candidates. The MHP has likewise withdrawn its mayoral candidates in Rize, Bilecik, Bolu, Burdur, Yalova, Çanakkale, Bitlis, Sinop, Edirne, Artvin, Giresun, Ardahan, Siirt, Muş, Ağrı, Şırnak and Hakkari and resolved to support the AKP in these seventeen provinces. A single list for municipal assembly seats will also be fielded in provinces falling under the alliance.


In the aftermath of the 24 June elections, the CHP has made an alliance with the Good Party alone. The CHP’s long-time tactic of winning elections through cosying up to right-wing voters has courted disapproval from many quarters. Mehmet Fatih Bucak, who hurled threats at other parties when he applied to stand for the MHP at the last elections, has become CHP candidate for Şanlıurfa Siverek in spite of objections within the party.


Critical cities like Ankara, Izmir and Mersin once more turn out to be the provinces where debate over candidates is at its hottest. In the end, cooperation under alliance was decided on in 22 metropolitan cities. The CHP has fielded candidates in more than 900 places including 18 metropolitan cities like İstanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Adana and 38 provinces. The Good Party has put forward a total of 543 candidates in 14 metropolitan cities like Konya, Kayseri, Kocaeli and Gaziantep and 28 provinces.


As to the HDP, it has played a dual tactic in these elections. Making anti-trustee alliances with Kurdish parties in provinces in the region, the HDP has announced that it is not fielding candidates in Istanbul, Adana and Izmir to hamper the AKP and MHP block. Fielding no candidates in cities like Ankara, Aydın, Adana, Hatay, Urfa, Mersin, Antalya, Bursa and Mersin, the HDP has conversely put forward candidates in certain of Istanbul and Ankara’s sub-provinces. Announcing its support for DSP candidate Celal Doğan in Gaziantep and, by contrast, Felicity Party candidate Ahmet Faruk Ünsal in Adıyaman, the HDP has nominated Van member of parliament Bedia Özgökçe Ertan in Van Metropolitan Municipality, Group Deputy Chair Ayhan Bilgen for Kars Municipality, Istanbul member of parliament Ali Kenanoğlu for Balıkesir Metropolitan Municipality and Istanbul member of parliament Züleyha Gülüm for Kocaeli.


Numbering among the most critical provinces in the local elections are such provinces as Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Mersin and Adana. The People’s Alliance is using figures who have served on the cabinet in the three big cities. It has fielded Parliamentary Speaker Binali Yıldırım in Istanbul, former Minister of Environment and Urbanization Mehmet Özhaseki in Ankara and former Minister of

Economy Nihat Zeybekçi in Izmir. As to the CHP’s candidates, these are Ekrem İmamoğlu in Istanbul, Tunç Soyer in Izmir and, in Ankara, Mansur Yavaş who fought against Melih Gökçek in the last local elections. In Mersin Metropolitan Municipality, in turn, where almost all parties are neck and neck, the CHP has nominated Vahap Seçer and the MHP Hamit Tuna as candidates.


The Good Party was going to field its current chair Burhanettin Kocamaz but the late arrival of Kocamaz’s documents has caused a crisis. The SEC will decide on whether Kocamaz is to be a candidate.


The SEC blocked the Labour Party (EMEP) and Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) from contesting the election asserting that they did not meet the qualifications to do so. With the Labour Party deciding to back the HDP against the trustees, it has put up independent candidates in Balıkesir, Tekirdağ, Kayseri, Kocaeli and Denizli along with Ankara’s Sincan sub-province and Izmir’s Buca sub-province.

EMEP is also contesting the elections in Dersim in a unity of forces.

ÖDP Presidential Board member Alper Taş, in turn, has become the CHP candidate for Beyoğlu Mayor in Istanbul.


In the election marked by alliances, the Felicity Party (SP) will contest the election in all regions with its own logo and candidates. The SP will field candidates in 1389 constituencies and has dwarfed all other parties in this regard.

The Felicity Party has nominated former Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, who had been spoken of as CHP-Good Party Ordu candidate, as candidate for Ordu Metropolitan Mayor.


As per the Supreme Electoral Council (SEC)’s electoral timetable, the deadline for submission of lists of candidates ended at 17.00 on 19 February. The provisional list of candidates including independent candidates will be announced by provincial and sub-provincial electoral boards on 22 February and the objection period will commence. As to the final lists of candidates, these will be proclaimed on 3 March.

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The future that those living in palaces in Turkey are imposing on people living in poverty

Because they live in palaces, they see unemployment, poverty and deteriorating living conditions for common people as just a rule of the game that they are playing.

The unemployment statistics in Turkey from November show not just the shocking growth in unemployment but also signal that unemployment will reach intolerable levels in 2019.
Unemployment consistently rose by 0.2% every month since August and reached 11.6% in October. But between October and November this jumped to 0.7% reaching 12.3% unemployment.
During the same period unemployment (excluding the agricultural sector) increases by 2.1 percentage points, reaching 14.3%. Unemployment amongst 15-24 year olds increased by 4.3%, reaching 23.6%.
Even according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) unemployed figures have reached 4 million, and real figures are closer to 7 million people.
It’s not just unemployment that is of concern, in December the construction industry contracted by 9.8%, the biggest slow down since 2009.


Last week unemployment stopped being just a number and showed its real size on the field. In Zonguldak, the vacancies for 1000 coal mine workers attracted 60,000 applicants! It is suggested that 15-20 thousand of these applicants are university graduates. Even smart bourgeois economists accept that unemployment will increase to above 15% in 2019.
Despite this reality, the treasury and finance minister, Berak Albayrak boasted “in January the budget was 5 billion more. Our budget discipline measures have yielded results. Our budget deficit is falling. This year it could fall to under 20 billion dollars. We have reached all our targets in our economic plan.”

Meanwhile President Tayyip Erdogan told young people asking him for jobs that “there is work. But there is work for qualified workers. Unqualified workers have a problem” ignoring that unemployment is higher amongst qualified university graduates compared to those without qualifications.

Erdogan has also opened a new debate in relation to hunger. “There is no hunger just a problem of over catering at the dinner table” says Erdogan who seems to have forgotten that 20 million people live below the poverty line in Turkey and those reliant on social welfare have reached 30.5 million.
All of the pro-government media and AKP cronies just repeat Erdogan and his (son-in-law) Minister Albayrak’s statements.
Of course the President and Treasury Minister aren’t just saying these things because they are unaware of what is going on in the country. Because they are as smart as everyone else and know the consequences of the politics they are pursuing. The problems being faced today are not accidental or unintentional. Albayrak’s response in the face of the stark reality of unemployment and poverty is not to deny it, on the contrary when he says “we have reached all our targets in out economic programme” he reveals that this was their target. Because there was no other way they could have achieved the targets they declared in their “economic programme”.

Because they live in palaces*, they see unemployment, poverty and deteriorating living conditions for common people as just a rule of the game that they are playing. This must be why for them the unemployment of millions of people appear to be “good for everyone” because it is a result of their “necessary and legitimate” economic programme.
So what is happening is not a result of failure or wrong political initiatives by the government, on the contrary it is “the undeclared but foreseen” result of reaching their goals in their economic programme
These are the living conditions that those living in palaces impose on the people!
And nothing will change until those living in poverty rise up and struggle against this life that is imposed on them.
The history of the working class struggle proves this.

* President Erdogan has a 1100 room presidential palace built for himself, adorned with expensive and luxury furniture. Even the daily expenses are paid for by the state.

Article by: Ihsan Caralan

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Journalist Çağrı Sarı’s trial adjourned and Cem Şimşek acquitted

Former Evrensel responsible editors Çağrı Sarı and Cem Şimşek appeared before the judge. Çağrı Sarı’s hearing was adjourned while Cem Şimşek was acquitted.

The adjudicatory hearing took place in former Evrensel responsible editor Çağrı Sarı’s trial over the Paradise Papers being heard at Bakırköy Penal Court of First Instance No 2, brought under a complaint by Minister Albayrak and his brother. Çağrı Sarı’s hearing was adjourned until 11.50 on 19 March with a decision for the last of the submitted documents to be examined.

Following Çağrı Sarı, the first hearing was held in the trial in which former Evrensel responsible editor İsmail Cem Şimşek was being prosecuted for reports that exposed rights violations taking place at Tarsus Prison. Şimşek was acquitted at the first hearing.

Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) General Chair Gökhan Durmuş, who called for attendance at the trials in which our staff are being prosecuted, stressed that what needed to be done when faced with reports of rights violations was to research and investigate this. Underlining that intimidatory trials were being brought against journalists instead of doing this, Durmuş said they would be at the journalists’ sides. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu emphasized that they were in solidarity with our newspaper’s staff.


Charges were laid against former Evrensel responsible editor İsmail Cem Şimşek over our articles and reports that exposed rights violations taking place at Tarsus Prison on the allegation of “defaming” the prison.

Under the indictment, Şimşek’s imprisonment for between one and four years was sought at the behest of Tarsus Penal Institution Number 2 on the charge that “defamation of Tarsus Prison” was made in the form of the reports titled “Claims of torture at Tarsus” published in our paper on 3 August 2018 and “On tenterhooks at Tarsus Prison” published on 9 August 2018 along with the article bearing lawyer Tugay Bek’s signature and titled “Brought from Afrin, forgotten in prison” published on 6 August 2018.


Following the publication in our paper of reports into the Paradise Papers, which delved into fund transfers made by politicians and bosses to evade tax and revealed that the two sons of Prime Minister at the time, Binali Yıldırım, owned an “offshore” company, and in which the names of then Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and current Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak and his brother Serhat Albayrak were mentioned, a prosecution was brought against our responsible editor at the time, Çağrı Sarı, under a complaint by Berat and Serhat Albayrak.

Sarı’s imprisonment for between one and six years was sought in the proceedings brought against him on the charge of “libel and defamation.”


Speaking to Evrensel, Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) General Chair Gökhan Durmuş had the following to say about the trials:

“Two of Evrensel daily’s former editors will appear before the judge at an interval of ten minutes to defend reports. The two trials in question are essentially trials that resemble one another. Those in power and the prosecutors who by now are quite obviously working to their instructions do not want corruption and human rights stories to be covered in Turkey. If the name of a country’s leader is mixed up in a corruption allegation they try to intimidate journalists through filing defamation trials rather than proving to the public that this is untrue, as should be done. If human rights breaches are reported on with reference to a prison, while the prosecutor’s duty is to investigate these claims and prosecute the prison governor, they prosecute the person who made that report.”

Saying, “The rulers don’t want journalism to be conducted in Turkey,” Durmuş noted, “That’s why 137 journalists are in jail and hundreds of them are busying themselves with such trials. But, if they think they will cow and frighten journalists like this, they are mistaken. For as long as what is publicly known diverges from the truth, there will always be journalists who cover this. We, at the same time, will be at the side of our union’s members Çağrı Sarı and Cem Şimşek.”


For his part, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu had the following to say:

“There is nothing specific to Turkey about it: regimes worldwide that enclose themselves target journalists who try to open the public’s eyes to truths and allegations. It is actually a great risk that journalists take in societies with weak public opinion that are not transparent. In Turkey, we see mainly women journalists chasing cases like corruption and impropriety. We are in solidarity with them so as to applaud this courage, too.”

Translated by Tim Drayton

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Direct sale points of Erdoğan government in 7 questions

Why have vegetable and fruit prices gone up in Turkey? Will direct sale points cure citizens’ woes? Are market traders to blame? We made a collation of the points of concern.

Sinem UĞUR

The direct sale points proposed by the AKP-Erdoğan government with the purported aim of reducing fruit and vegetable prices have been up and running since Monday 11 February. The rise in vegetable prices, which have reached record levels, will purportedly be stemmed through sales made at fifty points in İstanbul and fifteen in Ankara.

Will the direct sale points that have both attracted interest and prompted debate cure citizens’ woes? Why have prices risen? Who is to blame? What do the government, opposition and citizens say? We have replied to these questions by imparting the views of experts and politicians.


Farmers’ Union Tüm Koy Sen Training and Organization Expert Sedat Başkavak gave an itemized reply to our question.

•    The country’s agriculture is configured to align with monopolies’ interests. (Whenever agriculture is debated import policies constantly come to the fore instead of policies that will increase production. Agricultural production and produce prices are kept under pressure with the imports that are made. This also affects agricultural production because these practices tear producers and villagers away from agriculture. Agricultural production has been annihilated as a result of the WTO and EU’s impositions.)

•    Support for production is minimal. Input prices are high. (Diesel leaving the refineries fills the villager’s tractor with a price hike of more than 100% due to the distributor’s, transporter’s and vendor’s profit. Pesticides are imported, fertilizer is imported and the monopolies set the price. As such, the producer and villager, unable to match production costs, grow produce each year as if playing the pools to see which produce will make good money. Agricultural production has become unbalanced in this way.)

•    It is the companies, commission agents and chain supermarkets that set the prices of vegetables and fruit, not the producing villager. (Unorganized, the villager cannot set the price of the product he produces. Intermediaries, traders and supermarket chains impose whatever price they want, saying this is the market price. With them getting their profit, the villagers are sometimes left unable to recoup their costs let alone the labour they have put in.)

•    Climatic conditions that have made themselves felt more this year. (Production has been negatively affected by climatic conditions. Weeks of flooding and storms have left their toll on production in areas where vegetables are produced. Agricultural areas are still under water in some places. Villagers are not being compensated for losses they have suffered from natural disaster. Intermediaries are exploiting this situation to increase prices.)


Chair of the İstanbul Branch of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects’ Agricultural Engineers Chamber, Ahmet Atalık, indicated that market traders, producers and sellers were not to blame and pointed to cost and expense items. There follows a summary of Atalık’s comments to Evrensel:

“We cannot say market traders, sellers and small business people are to blame. These people pay tax, pay rent, employ staff, pay staff wages and insurance contributions and pay electricity, water and natural gas bills. There are a whole host of cost items. If we want cheap food these items need first of all to be made more tolerable.

They say, ‘We just take the cost of diesel at direct sale points and sell at the farmers’ prices.’ They don’t pay rent and there are no tax or electricity costs at the places they make sales. Can you now, under these conditions, say, ‘Look, I am providing this service and they are food terrorists?’

Even the produce sold at direct sale points where not a penny in profit is said to be made is very expensive. This is because fertilizer has been hiked by more than 100%. Pesticides have been hiked by up to 80%. The producer uses diesel, pesticides and fertilizer coming from abroad. The slightest increase in foreign exchange is reflected in costs. Our total agricultural area has declined by 3.2 million hectares. The farmer doesn’t grow because he can’t get compensation for his labour.”

The words of market traders and producers who spoke to DHA bear Atalık out.

Finike Wholesale Market Association Chair İsmail Karataş said, ‘The cost of the produce the producer grows is very high. If our state wants to get people eating cheap vegetables it must first reduce the costs of the produce he grows. The produce isn’t beamed from here to the major centres. There is a transportation cost for this. Diesel is six lira a litre. The small business people there invoice for this and pay tax. This is also a cost for small business people. What our state could do would be to eliminate tax entirely, municipalities could dispense with duties and withholding tax could be done away with and prices would fall.”

Producers Süreyya Dalgıç and Emine Baş commented, “What we expect from our state is cheap diesel and fertilizer prices becoming cheaper and taxes being abolished.” For his part, farmer İsa said, “Our state must know how high costs are. So, they first need to revise costs.”


Evrensel newspaper’s Economics Editor Bülent Falakaoğlu stated that direct sale points will not meet needs.

“The TANSAŞ model in 1980’s Izmir gives us an insight into this issue. The model brought farmers and supermarkets into a coordinated mode of working and cut down on intermediaries. With quality produce made available to the people more cheaply, the farmer was provided with a share of the income enabling him to continue producing. The TANSAŞ model only achieved effectiveness after it had spread throughout the entire Aegean region.

It is now virtually impossible to affect food prices with a limited number of direct sale points and limited produce!

Do fifty direct sale points suffice to meet needs in Istanbul, with its population of fifteen million, or fifteen in Ankara with a population of six million?

It has no producer component, no supermarket component and no reach. Hence, it has no chance of succeeding, either. It will aid the certain number of citizens who join the queue, but that won’t last long, either. Without solving the problems of expensive motorways and bridges, expensive diesel, high taxes, high rents and farmers’ production costs, prices won’t fall.

The farmer has a production problem. The price given for produce doesn’t meet costs. With the farmer not growing produce because it doesn’t pay, where are the fruit and vegetables to come from to the direct sale point?”


CHP Niğde Member of Parliament Ömer Fethi Gürer responded as follows to this question: “Direct sale points are being implemented for the perception to be created until the election that prices have fallen and it was the producer and intermediary that were to blame.”

Speaking to Evrensel, Gürer reeled off his criticisms of the AKP’s agricultural policy as follows: “Seeds, fertilizer and insecticide are imported and expensive. Diesel and electricity hikes affect production. Transport costs attributable to road and bridge transit implementations increase the price of produce.”

Stating that direct sale points were a for-show arrangement to say that prices had fallen, Gürer said, “Until farming inputs are cheapened and scientific, planned and foreseeable support is given to the producer, no lasting solution can be created. The fault lies with the AKP General Chair’s incorrect agricultural policies and externally-dependent practices.”


President Tayyip Erdoğan harbingered the setting up of direct sale points on 5 February. Erdoğan said in the speech he made to the AKP Parliamentary Group Meeting, “Be it peppers, be it aubergines, be it tomatoes, for everything we have decided to put a check on these prices if need be and we will take our steps. We will take these steps through our municipalities. You know, at one time regulated sales were set up. We can and will take these steps through our municipalities because we have to give our citizens cheap and healthy produce.”

In response to these words of Erdoğan, Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak said that direct sale centres would be set up.

Erdoğan said at his party’s Kastamonu rally on 12 February, “From now on the tents have been set up and with these we have set up sales places that are virtually like direct sale points. Prices have halved in an instant and will fall further because we will sell other products there. I mean, take cleaning products and whatever else there is in supermarkets. We will start selling a certain portion of these here, too. Why? Because they whipped up terrorism, terrorism. So, we have given, are giving and will give those who whip up terrorism in food the necessary lesson.”

CHP Spokesperson Faik Öztrak, commenting after the CHP Central Executive Committee on 11 February, stated, “Direct sale points alone are not enough. The components of this project are insufficient. You cannot tackle the burning problem in the kitchen without tackling the burning issues in agriculture and in the field.”

HDP Co-Chair Sezai Temelli said at the HDP Group meeting on 12 February, “Today, Erdoğan is obsessed with aubergines. He asks the people how many lira a bullet costs. A huge perception operation is underway in conjunction with the crony media with direct sales at fifty points in massive Istanbul. As if the producers themselves had not folded up, market traders and small business people are being declared enemies.”

Speaking at the Good Party group meeting on 12 February, General Chair Meral Akşener commented, “The state’s most strategic factory is being transferred to the private sector. They are going to get the state to sell potatoes and tomatoes. The way things are going, don’t be surprised if they ration tomatoes and peppers. Supposedly the opposition speaks of tomatoes and peppers. What are we to say? This is what we eat. How about you speak of the dragon fruit ‘smoothie’ you eat at the Palace.”


Evrensel reporters spoke to citizens waiting in the queue at the direct sale point in Şirinevler. There are both those at these points who are satisfied and those who think they won’t deliver a cure.

According to the report, one citizen said, “Let those who brought this to this state be ashamed. Is this a solution, I mean? Are people to stand in line for fruit and vegetables? After diesel, fertilizer and seed prices were not reduced, nothing will happen. Cosmetic measures will do nothing without supporting the producers.”

Another citizen thinks these points will teach supermarkets and markets a lesson: “I think it was welcome. Let it teach the supermarkets a bit of a lesson. This was opportunism. They’re taking advantage of the foreign currency rise.”


Direct sales first began to be implemented for the purpose of selling products to the people at more affordable prices in the 1970’s when Bülent Ecevit headed the Republican People’s Party (CHP). The initiative was centred around municipalities. This initiative started with an idea by İzmir Gültepe Mayor Aydın Erten and his deputy İlhan Güre. İzmir Mayor İhsan Alyanak launched a similar initiative in Alsancak.

Tansa, opened by the municipality in Izmir in 1973, and the direct sale shops set up in certain sub-provinces of Istanbul in 1976 spread rapidly.

The main aim through these shops was to obtain products directly from the producer or from cooperatives and circumvent price increases by eliminating the intermediary.

Izmir Tansa subsequently attained the name of TANSAŞ and turned into a supermarket chain. TANSAŞ was bought by Migros in 2011.

Direct sale shops were closed at the end of the 1990’s.

Translated by Tim Drayton

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Panel Discussion: Media Under Authoritarian Rule


Join us to hear from Can Dundar, Deniz Yucel and Aidan White, who will share their experiences of the Turkish government’s purge of the media and censorship of journalists seeking the truth.

Location                                             Date and Time

NLCH                                                     Sun, 17 March 2019
22 Moorefield Road                            16:00 – 18:00 GMT
Bruce Grove
N17 6PY

For more information about this event: Eventbrite

*Please note: There will be no admission without a valid ticket and ID.

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Full text of our Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat’s court statement

We are publishing the statement submitted to the court by our Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat, who is on trial charged with “defaming the President.”

Our Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat, who is being tried on the charge of defaming the President for one of his articles and whose imprisonment for between one year and four years is sought, appeared before the judges.

The full text of the statement Polat submitted to the court at his hearing that was adjourned to 14 May reads as follows:

“The introduction to my article giving rise to the prosecution titled ‘What do those addressed say about these allegations concerning the Erdoğan family?’ published on 28 May 2017 on Evrensel newspaper’s website was as follows: ‘A report was published on theblacksea.eu  site the day before yesterday containing some important claims concerning the Erdoğan family. I am publishing the report bearing the signature of Craig Shaw, considering its importance to readers in Turkey, too.’

I subsequently reproduced without comment Shaw’s report titled ‘President Erdoğan’s family in secret offshore ship deal.’

There was a question in my article’s headline that clearly did not comprise defamation and the reply came first from the public prosecution and then from the court in the form of the acceptance of the indictment.

As the report I reproduced in my article was relatively long I will provide a summarized version within the context of my statement.

The report dated 26 May 2017 starts with the standfirst, ‘Malta Files exposes multi-million USD oil tanker deal between family of Turkey leader, his close friend, and an Azeri billionaire’ and continues, ‘Through offshore companies in the Isle of Man and Malta, the Erdoğans secretly own an oil tanker worth nearly 25 million USD called the Agdash. The deal was constructed with Erdoğan’s close friend and Turkish businessman, Sitki Ayan, and an Azeri-Turkish billionaire called Mübariz Mansimov, owner of Istanbul-headquartered shipping conglomerate, Palmali Group. Documents show that since 2008, the cost of the Agdash deal for the two businessmen totals nearly 30 million USD, with seven million from Ayan, and nearly 23 million from Mansimov.’

The report states, ‘The Erdoğans obtained the Agdash from Mübariz Mansimov in October 2008, using a company in the Isle of Man called Bumerz Limited – named after its principal owners – the president’s son, Burak Erdoğan, his brother, Mustafa Erdoğan, and brother-in-law Ziya Ilgen.’

The report notes that Mansimov ordered the Agdash petrol tanker from a Russian state-affiliated Russian shipyard called United Shipping and to pay for part of the construction costs, he applied for a loan of 18.4 million dollars from the Latvia-based bank, Parex.

It also states that Erdoğan’s brother-in-law, Ziya Ilgen, registered Bumerz Limited in the Isle of Man and Agdash was delivered to Mansimov in the autumn of 2007. It mentions that in October 2008, through the Bumerz Limited company, the Erdoğan family obtained all the shares in the Agdash’s Maltese parent company, Pal Shipping Trader One, and thus became the real owners of the tanker, valued at 25 million dollars when it was first built.

It states that records from the Isle of Man company registry show that the day after the transfer to the Erdoğans, on 24 October 2008, Parex Bank finally issued the 18.4 million dollar loan that Mansimov had applied for a year earlier for the Agdash to the Bumerz company, but the Erdoğans never repaid a cent of the loan to the bank because Mansimov chartered the ship from the Erdoğan family and repaid the credit on their behalf.

The report also comes with the documents in English at its foot. I am annexing in numbered form thirteen documents in English totalling 121 pages. You will also find annexed to my defence Turkish explanations as to the meaning of each numbered document.

I now here turn to the indictment. The indictment prosecutor, having reproduced the report in full, says, ‘It is unimportant whether writing constituting libel and defamation is taken from another report. It is as if those who unfoundedly publish verbatim the allegations within have engaged in the same libel or defamation. Otherwise, everyone will write such an article to the detriment of people they do not like, or get an acquaintance of theirs to do so, and then can have it published somewhere externally.’

Article 160/2 of the Code of Penal Procedure number 5271 reads as follows: ‘The Republic prosecutor must, with a view to the material truth being investigated and to enable a fair trial to be conducted, gather and store using the judicial law enforcement officers under his command all evidence favourable and detrimental to the suspect and protect the suspect’s rights.’

Given that by now nostalgia has become attached to the notion of ‘favourable’ evidence in trials relating to freedom of the press and expression, its absence in the indictment in this trial brought against me did not strike me as particularly odd. But the indictment prosecutor does not submit any detrimental evidence, either. Having reproduced the report that I included in my column, he speaks of ‘unfounded’ allegations. We are unable to comprehend what concrete evidence he is relying on in this assertion or which sentence in the report the prosecutor is rebutting in commenting as such. The prosecutor, who has not presented a single piece of detrimental evidence, resorts instead to laying before us a potential scenario aimed at arousing suspicion and says, ‘Everyone will write such an article to the detriment of people they do not like, or get an acquaintance of theirs to do so, and then can have it published somewhere externally.’

A prosecutor cannot hatch such an odd scenario against a journalist whose conviction he is calling for and, only if this is true, he must propound it along with evidence.

Craig Shaw is a well-known journalist who has lent his signature to similar investigative reports. The report serving as the justification for my trial remains posted online and was simultaneously published verbatim in 7-8 European newspapers.

I am contextualizing. The text I included in my column is a report and does not comprise defamation. The headline that I placed above this report consists of a question that does not comprise defamation.

A great deal to do with journalism has changed over the hundreds of years of press history. But the following truth is instructive to us, both yesterday, and today and also tomorrow:

Journalism starts with the asking of questions. When you give up asking questions you will also have given up doing journalism. I will continue to ask questions.”

Translated by Tim Drayton

Article by: Evrensel Daily

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