PAA rejects Evrensel’s objection to announcement ban decision – embargo continues

The Press Advertisement Agency has dismissed our objection to the announcement and advertising decision it issued whereby more than one newspaper may not be purchased.

The Press Advertisement Agency (PAA) has once more dismissed the objection we made to the announcement and advertising ban penalty it imposed premised on newsagent sales.

The Press Advertisement Agency has dismissed the objection we made after it ruled “the purchasing by one reader of more than one newspaper” to be a crime on the basis of inspections made in the Adana, Ankara, Diyarbakır, Istanbul, İzmir and Kocaeli provinces on 28 October 2019. Alleging that Evrensel was bought by newspaper staff and this situation was of a constant nature, the PAA intimated that for this reason it had decided to continue suspension of the official announcement and advertising right. This decision was served on our paper on 14 January 2020. Purchasing more than one newspaper was deemed to be a crime element in this decision.

IS IT A CRIME TO BUY TWO PAPERS?

In the 14 January decision, the purchasing by one person of five newspapers in Diyarbakır and taking them to a prison, the purchasing by one person of eight newspapers in Meydan Market and three newspapers in Has-Er Market in İzmir, the purchasing of five newspapers from the Nesrit Bulut newsagent and two from the newsagent named Aktif Gıda Pazarlama in Adana and the purchasing of fifteen newspapers from the Şen Gıda newsagent and eight from Zaman Gıda in Gebze was deemed to be a “crime element.”

OUR GROUNDS FOR OBJECTION SUPPOSEDLY UNACCEPTABLE

The objection we made to this decision has been dismissed by the Press Advertisement Agency. In its decision, the PAA dismissed the objection we made, saying, “… It was ascertained that just as no valid and concrete information or documentation was submitted that would constitute a basis for the lifting of the General Directorate decision in question, no cogent explanation was offered with reference to the violations. Consequently, as Evrensel Daily newspaper’s grounds in the (g)-referenced correspondence were not deemed to necessitate the lifting of the (f)-referenced General Directorate decision and to be acceptable, there was no call for the conducting of any procedures in line with the (g)-referenced correspondence of the newspaper at issue.”

NO EXPECTATION OF A LAW-BASED AND INDEPENDENT DECISION FROM THE PAA

Noting that the Press Advertisement Agency was maintaining its double standards, Evrensel newspaper’s lawyer Devrim Avcı said, “It does not accept our readers buying two newspapers, but on the other hand the income other press outlets derive from mass sales is massive. They want us to believe that Sabah newspaper is purchased individually from newsagents.”

Saying that the Press Advertisement Agency alleges that newspaper staff constantly purchase the newspaper and this is untrue, Avcı said, “They say staff buy the paper but staff are in fact notified to both the PAA and the Social Security Institution. Despite this, they persist in saying that ‘Staff buy the newspaper.’”

Avcı stressed that he no longer expected a law-based and independent decision from the Press Advertisement Agency.

ACCORDING TO THE PAA, PAPERS MUST BE BOUGHT INDIVIDUALLY

The Press Advertisement Agency also recalled its decision, “In paragraph four of Article 46 of the Regulation on Official Announcements and Advertisements and Periodicals Which are to Publish These concerning the number of actual sales and their averages as well as distribution and sales principles, sales at final point-secondary newsagents must be made in fact and individually, with multiple sales being exceptional on reasonable and acceptable grounds.” In other words, the purchasing of more than one newspaper is deemed a “crime” under the Press Advertisement Agency decision.

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS MAY FULLY COME TO AN END IN ONE MONTH’S TIME

Evrensel was penalized with the first official announcement and advertisement ban on 18 September 2019. Even if we as a newspaper objected to the decision on 2 October, this met with dismissal on 10 October. This was compounded by the late delivery of the Press Advertisement Agency decisions to our paper by the post office. On 14 October we then requested a “renewed inspection” for this procedure to be reassessed. The reinspection fee for the renewed inspection decision issued on 4 November was also paid by our paper. On 19 December, we subsequently petitioned for a reply to be given to our paper in view of reinspection not yet having been conducted. On 14 January, however, the report replete with outrageous details about multiple purchases was forwarded to our paper. In response to this decision, we further objected to the decision on 20 January. However, from information that reached us on 17 February, the Press Advertisement Agency announced that it would not lift the announcement and advertisement ban penalty. A mere one month remains before our newspaper, designated as being penalized for five months, forfeits its official announcement right. If the official announcement ban penalty does not end by March, our newspaper Evrensel will attain the status of a newspaper unable to carry official announcements.

Article by Gözde TÜZER

Posted by Evrensel Daily

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Following signal from Erdoğan, Board of Judges and Prosecutors authorizes probe into Gezi trial judges

The Board of Judges and Prosecutors has authorized a probe into the judges which ordered acquittal in the Gezi trial. Prior to the decision authorizing the probe, Erdoğan said, “They set out with a manoeuvre to have him acquitted.”

Chamber One of the Board of Judges and Prosecutors has authorized a probe into the bench of Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 30 which ordered acquittal in the Gezi trial.

According to a report by Nazif Karaman of Sabah, the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (BJP) has authorized an examination and investigation of Presiding Judge Mehmet Perk and members Ahmet Tarık Çiftçioğlu and Talip Ergen who ordered acquittal in the Gezi trial.

From what has been gleaned, the Board will appoint an inspector into the bench. The inspector will investigate the affair.

ERDOĞAN REACTS TO DECISION

Criticizing the judgment emanating from the Gezi trial, President Erdoğan said, “There are in a serious sense Soros-type characters behind the curtains who by means of getting certain countries to rebel stir things up there and he was within the Turkish leg of this. They set out with a manoeuvre to have him (Osman Kavala) acquitted yesterday. Others are also with him in this affair.”

NINE PEOPLE ACQUITTED INCLUDING KAVALA

The bench in the Gezi trial ordered the acquittal of nine people, including detainee Osman Kavala. The court also ordered Kavala’s release. With Kavala being released in the evening in line with the ruling, a rearrest order was issued against him in relation to the 15 July investigation.

Posted by EVRENSEL DAILY

 

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9 People Acquitted and Osman Kavala Discharged in Gezi Trial

The court panel in the Gezi case gave the verdict of acquitting 9 people and discharging Osman Kavala, the only defendant of the case in detention. The files of 7 people abroad were set aside.

The sixth hearing of the Gezi court case of 16 people accused of “attempting to do away with the government of Turkish Republic,” one of whom has been in detention, has taken place in Istanbul Major Crimes Court 30 in Silivri. The court panel arrived at a verdict. Due to the lack of legal evidence pertaining to committing of the purported crimes by the accused, the verdict was the acquittal of 9 people and discharge of Osman Kavala. The court also decided for the files of 7 people abroad to be set aside and resolved for the removal of the orders for their arrest pending any other legal decision on them.

THE VERDICT HAS BEEN GIVEN

Having reminded that legal proceedings about Osman Kavala, Mücella Yapıcı, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Ali Hakan Altınay, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi, Çiğdem Mater Utku and Mine Özerden were started due to “attempts through compulsion and violence to do away with the government of Turkish Republic or to, partially or as a whole, impede it fulfilling its tasks”, “damaging property”, “qualitative looting”, “the unpermitted possession or supply of dangerous substances”, “deliberate cause of injury”, “aggravated injury” and “opposition to the Act of Safeguarding Cultural and Natural Heritage,” the court gave a verdict of their acquittal as “there was not sufficiently concrete or definitive evidence of the committing of crimes accused which would warrant a sentence”. The court resolved to acquit and discharge Osman Kavala.

The court which resolved to set aside the files of Can Dündar, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Gökçe Tüylüoğlu, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu and İnanç Ekmekçi, also resolved to quash the order for their arrest. The court issued a warrant for their arrest in order to take their statements.

Presenting his deliberation, the prosecutor had applied for aggravated life sentences for Osman Kavala, Mücella Yapıcı and Yiğit Aksakoğlu, sentences of 15 to 20 years for Tayfun Kahraman, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Yiğit Al Ekmekçi and for the files of Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Gökçe Yılmaz, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, Memet Ali Alabora ve İnanç Ekmekçi to be set aside.

THE DETAILS OF THE HEARING

Observed by representatives of international human rights organisations, members of parliament, journalists and the public, the court hearing opened with the statement of the prosecutor’s demands. Repeating his deliberation, the prosecutor alleged that all defence pleas are to extend the case and that they should therefore be rejected and that the detention of Osman Kavala should continue.

Following the statement by the prosecutor, the head of the court asked for a statement by Osman Kavala which was objected by the solicitors. The head of the court gave the solicitors a chance to speak following these objections.

Kaan Karcıoğlu, the lawyer for Mehmet Ali Alabora spoke first. Reminding the decision for non-prosecution relating to his client’s Twitter activity, Karcıoğlu expressed their wish to analyse the records of phone calls and to look at whether or not the records were tampered with.

Following Karcıoğlu, Evren İşler, the lawyer for Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Mücella Yapıcı, spoke. İşler said “The witnesses we would like to hear are in the court. It is not the case that there is an attempt to lengthen the hearings. ”

Aynur Tuncel Yazgan, the lawyer for İnanç Ekmekçi, in her speech to the court panel, said “You gave no decision on the evidence I demanded to be collected. If the witness has been prepared in accordance with the Act of Penal Court and if a document has been submitted, the court has to accept. Our witness is here. The witness is a person to be listened to for us, we demand the witness to be heard.”

Hürrem Sönmez, the lawyer for Çiğdem Mater Utku, stated that “The witness about the allegation directed at my client is here, we demand for the witness to be heard.”

THE COURT REFUSES ALL DEMANDS ON THE GROUNDS THAT “IT WILL NOT BENEFIT THE HEARING”

The court case resumed after the recess. The head of the court refused all demands on grounds that “It will not benefit the hearing” and gave the floor to Osman Kavala for a statement. Kavala said he wished to speak after the witnesses were heard in accordance with the advice given by his lawyers.

KAVALA: I WILL PRESENT MY DEFENCE ONCE THE WITNESSES ARE HEARD

Speaking about the conditions of his detention, Kavala reminded the vote of opposition given by Zühtü Arslan, the head of the court in the European Human Rights Court and Constitutional Court decisions.

YAPICI: PROSECTORS AND COURT PANELS HAVE CHANGED YET I AM STILL HERE AND STILL IN THE RIGHT

Senior Architect Mimar Mücella Yapıcı, being tried for life sentenced said “I am not going to provide a defence; I provided my defence in the court where I was acquitted.” Demanding extended time for all those tried in the case to provide a defence, Yapici said “I said it to the previous court panel, I am here dear chair, you are changing yet I am right here and still in the right.”

Those listening to the case applauded after Yapıcı’s words. The head of the court warned that in case of further applause, those listening to the case will be ejected from the court hall.

THE HEAD OF COURT RESOLVED TO COME UP WITH A DECISION

Baran Ali Şahin, a lawyer for the Home Ministry, then took the floor to express his agreement with the deliberation and the sentences to be issued to all defendants. The lawyer for the Treasury also expressed agreement with the court deliberations.

The court panel, having refused once again all the defence pleas, announced that they will be opening the hearing to the objections to the court deliberation.

BAYRAKTAR: THE DETENTION OF KAVALA VIOLETES EHRC DECION, IT SHOULD BE QUASHED

Stating that he will not speak against the deliberation, lawyer Köksal Bayraktar said he will speak about the detention of Osman Kavala. Bayraktar stated that “The detention of Kavala violates the EHRC decision, there is a reality before us, human rights have been violated and continue to be done so… Our client has been in detention for the last 2.5 years. This is unacceptable. You should not remain a bystander to unlawful activity and cannot remain so. As stated in the EHRC decision, Kavala should be released ‘immediately’”.

THE COURT PANEL LEAVES THE COURT

Without giving permission to all of the lawyers for the defence to speak, the court panel demanded the tried to provide their final statements. Despite all the objections from the lawyers, the tried were asked to provide their final statements. Özgür Karaduman, a lawyer objecting to this was forcibly removed from the court, upon which when those in court reacted to this with applause, the listeners were demanded to leave the court and decision to this effect was given.

Without announcing a recess, the court panel then left the court.

“YOU CANNOT EJECT THE DEFENCE FROM THE COURT”

Gendarmes with headgear brandishing shields entered the section of the court where the defence lawyers were to remove lawyer Özgür Karaduman which the head of the court demanded be removed from the court; the lawyers reacted by demanding a written decision.

Ali Kenanoğlu, the HDP MP reacted saying “You cannot remove the defence out of the court.” With the objections getting stronger, the decision to remove Özgür Karaduman was overturned despite the demand by the court earlier.

The court panel returned to the court. Having refused the lawyers plea for extension, the final statements of the lawyers were taken and then the court decision was announced.

The decision of the court met the applause of those in attendance.

Article posted by EVRENSEL DAILY

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An “awareness” question: What business does Turkey have in Syria?

President Tayyip Erdoğan said: “Whoever says, ‘What business does Turkey have in Syria?’ is either unaware or intentionally an enemy of this people.”

In the speech he made at his party’s parliamentary group meeting last tuesday, President and AKP General Chair Tayyip Erdoğan targeted those who criticize Turkish troops coming under fire and a state of war being reached with the Syrian army in Idlib by saying, “Whoever says, ‘What business does Turkey have in Syria?’ is either unaware or intentionally an enemy of this people.” That is, ever since 2011 Erdoğan has accused critics of the intervention-based policy in Syria of either lacking awareness or harbouring enmity towards the nation. As his speech progressed, Erdoğan says the “Adana Agreement” signed with the Syrian administration in 1998 authorizes Turkey to stage operations in Syria and Turkish troops are in Idlib pursuant to this agreement.

Let us start with the issue of “awareness.”

I wonder if Erdoğan accuses askers of the question, “What business does Turkey have in Syria?” of either “lacking awareness” or “harbouring enmity towards the nation” because he is so sure of the correctness of the policies he is implementing and that they are in the popular interest, or to conceal the problems and threats this policy has created.

Yes, I have repeatedly posed this question and will continue to do so.

This is because if in 2011 you set out with the claim of democratizing Syria and turn the country into a motorway of jihadists from all four corners of the globe going to wage war in Syria, we are entitled to inquire, “What business do we have in Syria?”

If jihadist gangs create “emirates” and radical religious militants swarm on our borders as a result of the policies you have implemented and the interventions you have staged in the name of ensuring the country’s security, we are entitled to say, “What business do we have in Syria?”

If, having advertised the camps set up in the country so as to create a basis for the interventionist policy in Syria and encouraged the flow of refugees to this degree, you say, “We are in Idlib to stem the flow of refugees,” we are entitled to inquire, “What business do we have in Syria?”

If, with the table set up for the peaceful solution of the Kurdish problems and talks with the Syrian Kurds making headway, you abandon this policy and obdurately engage in operations that serve no other function apart from aiding imperialists in using this problem for their own interests, we are entitled to say, “What business do we have in Syria?”

This means those who ask, “What business does Turkey have in Syria?” are not asking this question for nothing.

This is because lying at the heart of all the problems and threats Turkey faces today in Syria is the AKP-Erdoğan administration’s policy of intervention in Syria in 2011 on which it embarked with claims to “regional leadership” and dreams of “neo-Ottomanism.”

Let us turn to what Erdoğan says about the Adana Agreement and the presence of Turkish troops in Idlib.

Whichever of Erdoğan’s pronouncements in his group speech you take, you are left with a dud.

In this speech, he both proclaims the Syrian regime to be “illegitimate” and says he does not recognize it and also defends Turkey’s presence in Syria by virtue of an agreement made with this regime. This is not the full extent of the quirkiness: Erdoğan threatens war and grants the Syrian army until the end of the month to withdraw from Idlib which is part of its own national territory.

Let us leave this to one side and inquire whether the Adana Agreement really, as alleged, grants Turkey the right of intervention.

The Adana Agreement was signed on 20 October 1998 with the mediation of Iran and Egypt following the removal of PKK leader Öcalan from Syria (9 October 1998), which created serious tension between the Turkish and Syrian administrations. In this five-article agreement, the Syrian administration undertakes to ban the PKK’s activities in Syria and to prevent threats and actions targeting Turkey on its own territory. There is no wording in any article of the agreement about an intervention right of Turkey. However, despite this, the Erdoğan administration intervened in areas governed by the Syrian Kurds (Syrian Democratic Forces) by arguing that this agreement granted it the right of intervention!

In fact, we encounter a situation today that cannot be accounted for on such grounds, either. The Syrian administration is staging an operation against an organization that the UN and Turkey officially proclaim to be a “terrorist organization” to ensure security in its own territory. Moreover, it is staging this operation to secure the M4 and M5 motorways in the wake of Turkey’s failure to fulfil its commitments in the Sochi Agreement signed between Erdoğan and Putin on 17 October 2018. And, see if the Erdoğan administration is not restricting itself to opposing this operation and is threatening the Syrian army with intervention and, furthermore, is premising this on the Adana Agreement!

A further important point that shows the extent of the contradiction and impasse against which the Erdoğan administration has run up is that Russia is supporting this operation by the Syrian army with aerial bombardment. But, when it comes to Russia which he cannot boss about and which in fact instrumentalizes its relationship and cooperation with the Erdoğan administration in its fight for supremacy with the USA, Erdoğan says and is obliged to say, “We attach special importance to the continuation of our friendship with Russia.”

There remains but a single question. Which betrays lack of awareness: questioning a policy that exposes the country and the people to such great threat and problems, or obdurateness over this policy?

Article by Yusuf Karatas

Translated by Tim Drayton

 

 

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IPI-led international press freedom mission: Turkey must end public ad ban on independent newspapers

IPI-led international press freedom mission called for an immediate end to the ban on public advertising on the two independent newspapers Evrensel and BirGün.

The International Press Institute (IPI), Reporters without Borders (RSF), the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), called for an immediate end to the ban on public advertising on the two independent newspapers Evrensel and BirGün.

Both newspapers are part of a shrinking club of media that have stubbornly resisted pressure to curb their independent journalism and readiness to criticize the authorities. Since September they have been subjected to indefinite bans imposed by BIK (Basin Ilan Kurumu), the agency responsible for the distribution of the state advertising budget.

Should the bans remain in place for six months (until March) the newspapers will be formally excluded and unable to reapply for funding for three years. Such a result would be catastrophic for the economic viability of the newspapers.

On Thursday, February 6, the delegation of press freedom groups met with the director of BIK, Rıdvan Duran, and were told that Evrensel and BirGün had breached technical regulations regarding the crediting and sourcing of articles and their means of distribution. Duran insisted that BIK’s ban was not related to their editorial line and that both newspapers still had time to correct their practice to be once more eligible for public advertising funds.

Evrensel has been banned since September 18, accused of bulk buying that distorts their distribution figures against which measure the advertising levels are set. Some of Evrensel’s supporters place group orders of editions before distributing them through their local networks. It is a practice that Evrensel has had in place since they were first appointed to the distribution scheme in 2011.

In September 2019, BIK ruled however this practice as bulk purchasing and against the regulations. BIK added that when municipalities or travel companies purchase papers in bulk for distribution to employees or passengers, they are registered at no more than 50 copies even when the numbers sold are in their hundreds.

BirGün newspaper also received an indefinite ban at the beginning of September. The initial charge was a failure to submit distribution figures in time. When that was resolved BIK added a new charge that BirGün had failed to properly credit authors or sources in its articles.

Daily Cumhuriyet also received a short-term ban in September for a report ruled to have “humiliated the Turkish security forces”. While the paper does not currently face the threat of a permanent ban, the delegation expressed concern about how this power could be misused to stifle legitimate criticism.

BIK was first established in 1961. In 2013 its structure was changed to enable it to impose bans for breaches of its code. It has a General Assembly made up of members appointed by the government, the media industry and civil society. In August 2019 Rıdvan Duran was appointed as the new director.

According to Duran, BIK distributes funds to over 1,000 different newspapers on an annual budget of 450 million Turkish lira (around 69 million euros). The delegation was disappointed that BIK is unable to provide public reports on how these funds are distributed to the different newspapers, nor on the different penalties imposed on media.

“Turkey’s independent media have been under extreme pressure in recent years with around 170 outlets closed in 2016 and the remaining subjected to hundreds of prosecutions against their journalists”, the press freedom delegation said. “Rıdvan Duran has given his assurance that the bans are not politically motivated and can be swiftly resolved. It is imperative that he is true to his word and that the advertising bans are swiftly lifted.”

Article posted by EVRENSEL DAILY

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Fighting for the right to join a trade union

CEREN SAGIR reports on an important workers’ struggle at SF Trade Leather in Izmir, Turkey

BRITISH luxury fashion company Mulberry says it prides itself for being “ethically sourced.”

Volkswagen Group UK Ltd says it has a “zero-tolerance approach to any form of modern slavery.”

And Mercedes-Benz UK claims to have a “zero-tolerance policy towards violations of the laws banning forced labour, slavery and human trafficking.”

But these major companies, along with other international brands such as Molift, Odder, Römer, Liko, Babybjörn and Audi source materials from a factory operating in Izmir, Turkey, where an important workers’ struggle is taking place.

Employees at SF Trade Leather have been fighting for their right to organise in the country’s leather workers’ union, Deriteks Sendika, since 2015.

The company initially responded by sacking about 14 workers, offering their jobs back on the condition that they cancel their union membership.

SF also demanded the local court block the union from posting material on their action online, and even filed a claim for damages.

Workers fought against the company and campaigned both locally and internationally for their colleagues’ reinstatement.

Campaigns and protests in front of brands such as Mulberry, supported by British trade unions and campaign groups, led to victory, with the opening of negotiations between SF management and Deriteks.

As a result, SF accepted the right to trade-union membership within the workplace and a protocol was signed stating that mutual dialogue would improve.

But last summer, Deriteks heard from SF workers that harassment and bullying behaviour were still taking place, and a workplace organisation committee was formed by the unionised workers In order to tackle the issue.

Union members Ayse, Pinar, Nurcan and Sevcan were immediately suspended for allegedly “not performing well” and were accused of bringing the factory “into disrepute and endangering other workers’ jobs.”

The four women have since been on a symbolic strike for over 100 days with the support of Deriteks, and continue to fight for their jobs and their right to trade-union membership.

Ironically, SF claims on its website that its core values include to work as a team, contribute to their communities and build open and honest relationships.

And the right to join a union is supposedly protected under Turkey’s constitution.

SF workers are continuing to call for the reinstatement of all sacked employees with immediate effect, for trade0union recognition and the right to organise within the workplace, and for an end to bullying and harassment by SF management.

Their struggle and determination to get their jobs back have become a symbol of resistance in the Gaziemir Zone of Izmir, which is home to many leather factories.

London-based campaign group Solidarity with the People Of Turkey (Spot), which works to build bridges between organisations and unions in Britain and Turkey, has urged trade unionists, politicians and members of the public to contact company owner Frederic Giraud.

Mulberry and BabaBjorn were the only companies that responded to pressure from the group, saying they take the matter seriously and that they have approached relevant departments.

However, Spot said that unless the workers are reinstated, protests in front of their stores in Britain will begin from this weekend.

The four women workers have thanked Spot for their support in their class struggle in a video, adding: “Long live international solidarity.”

MPs such as Labour’s Feryal Clark (Enfield North) have supported the campaign by writing to the employers of SF. Unions including Unison have also backed the campaign.

Tomorrow, demonstrators will be gathering outside Mulberry in London’s Covent Garden at 1.30pm to warn the that they will be taking action against companies that are complacent over workers’ rights abuses.

Spot secretary Cinar Altun told the Star: “We want to make sure that the voices of workers in Turkey are heard and major corporations cannot turn a blind eye to workers’ rights violations within their supply chains.

“Spot has successfully put pressure on the Turkish government, with the support of trade unions in the UK, against some of the atrocities being committed in the country from their attacks on human rights and freedom of speech, to their war against the Kurdish people.

“We hope that organisations, unions and MPs will stand with us and support these four women workers who are simply demanding their basic rights under both Turkish and international law.”

Support this campaign by contacting SF Trade Leather at:
info@sf-trade.com
marketing@sf-textile.com
purchasing@sf-textile.com
hr@sf-trade.com
Please send all messages to the attention of Mr Frederic Giraud

 

This article was posted by: Morning Star

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Scandalous reason for cutting ads off for Evrensel: Readers’ solidarity was considered as a crime

According to Press Advertisement Agency (BİK) reports, readers buying more than three newspapers presented as a reason for cutting ads off for Evrensel.

Press Advertisement Agency (BİK) refused our appeal against the decision to stop allocating public sector advertisements in our newspaper. The reasons put forward for the decision were scandalous. One reader buying two papers was given as a reason for the decision.

BİK, whics is affiliated to the Presidency, is responsible for allocating public sector advertisements to newspapers. Most newspapers, especially ones like ours that are not owned by big corporations, depend on income raised via BİK advertisements.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

Evrensel called its readers to stand in solidarity against a financial siege by Turkish authorities. The campaign called “Every day buy 2 copies of Evrensel: Read one, give one to someone to read” gained countrywide support in a short time.

However, BİK authorities counted the campaign as an element of a crime. According to BİK reports, readers buying more than three newspapers presented as a reason for ceasing advertisements.

The BİK also reported on where the papers were taken after purchase. Evrensel’s lawyer Devrim Avcı said that this was an attempt to punish the paper through its readership “Are you physically following readers? This is what comes through your reports.”

Following investigations in individual newsagents, BİK claimed that readers purchasing more than one paper constitutes an offense and the paper didn’t meet its minimum actual sales quota. BİK visited individual newsagents in Adana, Ankara, Diyarbakır, İstanbul, İzmir and Kocaeli on 28 December and observed sales against the rule of “final purchase should be the sale of individual papers, except for exceptional circumstances where more then one is purchased” and that readers “purchased more than one paper.”

BİK: COMPLAINANT, VICTIM, ATTORNEY, JUDGE AND POLICE

Lawyer Devrim Avcı said that the role of BİK was to allocate public sector advertisements but that it uses its position to suppress newspapers such as Evrensel, BirGün and Cumhuriyet; “BİK makes a complaint, carries out the investigation and the sentencing. It is playing the role of complainant, victim, attorney, judge and police all at once. This unacceptable in a state of law.”

“ALL READERS ARE WORKERS?”

Avcı said that BİK going to cities and dictating how many copies an individual can buy is an attempt to stop Evrensel’s campaign of “Every day buy 2 copies of Evrensel: Read one, give one to someone to read”. In response to BİK’s decision that “those that purchase the paper work for the paper” she said “so you see all readers as workers? There would be many procedures involved, including national insurance payments if they really were workers of the paper. You show none of these as proof but still see all that purchase the paper as workers of the paper. This is discrimination.”

ARE READERS ACTUALLY FOLLOWED?

Avcı continued: “They say newspapers are bought in Diyarbakır and taken to the prison. Are you following the individuals that bought the papers? How do you know they are taken to the prison? Are you following them? That is the conclusion we reach from your report. The paper is being punished through its readership. We’ll be challenging this through legal means.”

ALLOCATIONS WILL PERMANENTLY BE STOPPED WITHIN TWO MONTHS

In its decision BİK also mentioned that “papers that do not continue receiving public service advertisements for six months following a suspension… will lose permanently their right to receive these advertisements.” Our paper received its suspension on 18 September 2019. We appealed on 2 October but it was rejected on 10 October. The decision was also delayed by the late delivery of the BİK notification by PTT (National Postal Service). We asked for a “re-evaluation” on 14 October. Our newspaper paid for the re-evaluation which was granted on 4 November. By 19 November the re-evaluation had not taken place yet so we wrote asking for a response. Finally, we received the report including the alleged bulk buying on 14 January 2020. The stated decision was that “the newspaper continues to act against clause 19 of the legislation regarding removal of allocations of public service advertisements.” Our newspaper’s right to publish public service advertisements was suspended four months ago and if this ban is not lifted by March, Evrensel’s status will become one that cannot receive public service advertisement.

JOURNALIST ORGANISATIONS CALL FOR SOLIDARITY WITH EVRENSEL: WE WON’T BUY TWO, BUT THREE NEWSPAPERS

Many individuals and institutions in the media stated their support for Evrensel:

Gökhan Durmuş, the general secretary of the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) mentioned that financial sanctions against opposition media outlets by BİK have increased in the recent years and that BİK is trying to economically push them to the brink, issuing suspensions using reasons against legislation. Durmuş said “everyone knows that a newspaper close to the rulership is sold in bulk but Evrensel is punished for one reader purchasing two papers” and continued “as a reader who buys two papers as a part of Evrensel’s campaign do I need to look over my shoulder to see if I’m followed? What kind of a decision is this? How many papers I buy concerns me not the BİK. They should also explain under what legislation they are following people. BİK should return immediately to its principals of equality. The suspension against Evrensel should be lifted immediately and the paper should receive its deserved share from official notices.”

DİSK Media Workers’ Branch General Secretary Faruk Eren said BİK’s decision was “like a joke” and that “they are looking for excuses to pressure people.” He said the rulership doesn’t want the public to hear the truth and “newspaper that report the truth are put under pressure. Some of this pressure is economical just as Evrensel and BirGün faced. Journalists will continue to share the truth with the public. From now on we’ll buy not two but three papers.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative, Erol Önderoğlu, said that “BİK should firstly explain its ‘performance’ against those newspapers involved in political immorality, prejudice and intolerance and feel ashamed of attacking a newspaper that reports on workers’ and peoples’ rights. We know that government institutions buy some papers in bulk or they are distributed freely, which is deemed acceptable; but why is the distribution of a newspaper by its own distributors a problem? Turkey’s media regulators are running a scheme of liquidation through double standards.”

Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD), Can Güleryüzlü said “We are not surprised that Evrensel is targeted. Because Evrensel exposes the rulership’s system of exploitation; carries the rights of the exploited to its pages and reports on workers’ struggles as objective journalists.”

CHP MP Utku Çakırözer, formerly a journalist himself, reacted against the embargo on Evrensel and the reasons for it in the Parliament. He said “BİK suspensions continue despite the reaction. It is unbelievable that Evrensel has been punished! They went to newsagents and blacklisted readers for supporting their newspapers. They were questioned on why they buy more than one newspaper and the newspaper was fined. Reader support is not an offence. This violation of rights against Evrensel, BirGün and Cumhuriyet must be stopped immediately.”

A wave of anger is also burst out over social media. Several people shared their photos while buying ‘more than one copy of Evrensel” as “an element of a crime” through their social media accounts. Also, Evrensel’s call for solidarity campaign gained a lot of attention by re-tweets.

 

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Strike bans are unconstitutional

Lawyer Ahmet Ergin discusses rulings the Constitutional Court has passed on strike bans: “Constitutional Court case law provides guarantees to workers intent on striking.”

A fresh strike is in the offing for metal workers, their wages eroding day by day under conditions of economic crisis. Disagreement reigned at the Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries group collective agreement negotiations that were continuing in the metal sector, the mediation phase has been passed through and a strike decision taken. With the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions-affiliated Turkish Metal Union to set the implementation date later, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions/United Metal Workers’ Union, conversely, have announced their strike resolutions to take effect on 5 February.

Strike action, one of the most basic means of “class struggle,” is one of the fundamental rights and freedoms that is enshrined in both international treaties and in the constitutions of many countries, ours included. Strike action, as well as being a fundamental right per se, is also an important and mandatory component of the right to collective agreements.

The power holders’ practices that have banned all effective strike action over the past decade willy-nilly invite the question of whether the potential metal strike will be postponed (banned). It is worth recalling in this regard the United Metal Workers’ Union’s banned 2015 strike.

The United Metal Workers’ Union’s strikes that took in 15,000 workers and which it launched at twenty workplaces on 29 January 2015 and were to start on 19 February 2015 at eighteen workplaces was banned by the Cabinet on 30 January 2015.

The ban met with resistance among workers and the strike actually continued for a few more days at major plants especially in Gebze and Istanbul and then workers began to return to the shop floor shepherded by trade unionists whose outlook was confined to “narrow legal rights” and whose actions were basically informed by concerns for no “bother to emerge.”

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DECLARED BAN TO BE A VIOLATION

Touted chiefly by those of this persuasion was, “the position of unions holding illegal strikes will put paid to us and workers will become jobless.” However, as was mentioned in that period, strike action is a right granted by international treaties to which Turkey is party and the Constitution, and the power holders with their postponement-cum-ban were acting illegally. Indeed, the Constitutional Court (CC) pointed out in its ruling of 09 May 2018 on the United Metal Workers’ Union’s application number 2015/14862 that the strike postponement was unlawful and violated strike/trade union rights.

It was stated in the CC ruling that approaches of this kind “could engender a conclusion in which all strikes that will have certain economic consequences could hamper national security and lead to infringements of constitutional rights that are unnecessary in a democratic society and are disproportionate.” It was noted in the ruling that the notion, “Economic security is an integral part of national security” mooted in the Cabinet’s postponement resolution and in the Council of State ruling dismissing the stay of implementation application was in need of explanation. The CC stressed that the concept of “economic security” was not enumerated in the law as grounds for strike postponement and the postponement resolution infringed on trade union rights.

SAME RULING WAS PASSED ON GLASS WORKERS

The CC, indicating that the notion of “national security” cited as grounds for banning strikes could well be expanded in scope according to personal views and rationales and, hence, was a general notion that could lead to various and phased implementations that could extend as far as arbitrariness, recalled that this had also been stated in the ruling it had passed on the ban on Glass, Cement, Ceramic and Soil Industries Workers’ Union members’ right to strike. Let us here recall that the Constitutional Court also declared a violation in its ruling of 02 July 2015 with reference to the ban affecting the strike implemented by the Glass, Cement, Ceramic and Soil Industries Workers’ Union at Şişecam workplaces. It is thus necessary and imperative to stress to all workers, not least the metal workers who are about to exercise the right to strike, that there is case law regarding strike bans, the CC’s rulings are of the same thrust and arbitrary “postponement” resolutions are contrary to the Constitution and the law.

In particular, given the argument, ““Economic security is an integral part of national security” has fallen foul of the Constitutional Court, we can say here and now that the passing of a resolution to postpone a potential strike under the metal group collective labour agreement will be unconstitutional and unlawful.

BANS SHOULD GO UNHEEDED

It is by now abundantly clear that no heed should be paid to the Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries’ or the bosses’ veiled threats that your strike will be banned. There is no statutory or constitutional basis for resorting to the reason “our strike will be banned” and claiming that trade unionists need sign low agreements or not actually continuing to strike under such a potential ban. Strike action is a statutory and constitutional right and “arbitrary bans” are unconstitutional. Labour courts, regional courts of justice, the Court of Cassation and the Council of State are obliged to rule in line with Constitutional Court rulings. Consequently, workers and trade unions who do not recognize unlawful bans under normal conditions and under the normal legal order cannot be accused of acting unlawfully and so cannot be deprived of rights.

POSTPONEMENT-CUM-BAN

The statutory basis for banning strikes is Article 63 of the Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreements Law number 6356. According to this article, “If a legal strike or lockout that has been decided on or started is of a nature that impairs national security, the Cabinet (now the President) may postpone the strike or lockout in this dispute for sixty days. The duration of the postponement starts on the date the resolution is promulgated. On the postponement resolution taking effect, the mediator appointed in accordance with paragraph seven of Article 60 shall expend all manner of effort for the duration of the postponement for the resolution of the dispute. The parties may also reach mutual agreement within the duration of the postponement and take the dispute to a special arbitrator. If agreement is unreachable at the end of the duration of the postponement, the dispute shall be resolved by the Supreme Arbitration Board on application by one of the parties within sixty working days. Otherwise, the workers’ trade union shall be derecognized.”

As everyone who reads the text of the statute can understand, there can be no resumption of the strike at the end of the sixty-day period and the collective agreement is enacted by the Supreme Arbitration Board. This procedure, dubbed postponement, is thus blatantly prohibition.

Article by Ahmet ERGİN

Translated by Time Drayton

 

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Cancelled press cards of Evrensel newspaper staff restored

The cancelled press cards of Evrensel newspaper staff have been restored.

The cancelled press cards of Evrensel newspaper staff have been restored. When some Evrensel staff members consulted the “Press card search” section today, they saw the wording “in use” in place of the comment “annulled” they had previously seen. However, no comment in this regard has been forthcoming from the Presidency Directorate of Communications to either our newspaper or the public. The press cards of hundreds of journalists have also been similarly cancelled along with those of Evrensel staff.

After the Press Cards Commission had been attached to the Presidency Directorate of Communications, when journalists who had made much earlier renewal applications called the Press Card Support Line, they received the reply, “You can continue to use your old cards.” Nevertheless, the comment “in waiting” was displayed on the search screen. However, last week the press cards of Evrensel staffers and a great many journalists not on Evrensel’s staff were cancelled.

Notably, the change in question was made on a non-working day, on Sunday.

CLOSED TV STATION CARD STATED TO BE “IN USE”

Among those stripped of their cards was permanent press card holder Sultan Özer. Özer’s most recent search brought an interesting error to light. Sultan Özer’s press card that had been cancelled last week had not been made available for use. The card that had been restored to use was the card issued while she was working as part of Hayatın Sesi television, closed under a ministerial circular, which it returned when the entity was shuttered. This is believed to be the result of error.

TGS: “ORGANIZED STRUGGLE HAS FORCED A STEP-BACK”

The Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS) Ankara branch called on the Directorate of Communications to grant non-issued turquoise cards forthwith. Journalists will stage a protest in front of the Presidency Directorate of Communications tomorrow at 1 pm.

The TGS Ankara branch’s call to the Directorate of Communications and its colleagues is as follows:

“The Presidency Directorate of Communications passed a law-defying resolution last week and cancelled many journalists’ press cards. This has rendered our colleagues incapable of performing their duties. Our colleagues who have been stripped of their cards have been unable to enter parliament, ministries and judicial complexes and follow up the news.

However, the Directorate of Communications has taken a step back and has restored the Yellow Press Cards that it had cancelled. The Directorate of Communications has apparently opted to revert from the error it has made.

We make a repeat call to the Directorate of Communications, which has opted for a course of action that rectifies this injustice our colleagues have suffered, and urge it to issue the turquoise cards that have gone unissued for a year without any grounds being cited.

We invite all our members and colleagues to support this call of ours.”

EROL ÖNDEROĞLU: REVERSION FROM A SERIOUS ERROR

Erol Önderoğlu of the Reporters Without Borders organization issued the statement, “We view the restoration of the press cards to certain Evrensel staff members whose press cards had been cancelled as “reversion from a serious error.” The Presidency Directorate of Communications can only revert from all similar errors if it ends this unjust procedure.”

PRESS CARD ANNOUNCEMENT FROM COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER ALTUN: “MISCONSTRUED FACTS”

Presidency Communications Minister Fahrettin Altun has made a statement in relation to press cards. In his statement, Altun has dismissed the validity of claims that certain media entity staffers had had their press cards cancelled. Last week, the press cards of the entire staff of Evrensel and also many journalists not with Evrensel were cancelled.

Altun made pronouncements concerning press card applicants in a written statement he posted on his social media account.

Fahrettin Altun noted that all procedures by the Communications Ministry relating to press cards were conducted under the Press Card Directions.

Recalling that, alongside applications for initial press cards or permanent press cards, applications were made for new press cards for such reasons as general card change, loss, wear and tear, change of entity or return to the profession, Altun indicated that the Communications Ministry Press Card Application System was open and applications were currently being received.

13,372 CARDS RENEWED, 894 IN WAITING

Altun stated that the post-application assessment process was undertaken meticulously in a manner that guards the prestige and esteem of press cards.

Recalling that, with this in mind, investigation was made to determine whether applicants fulfilled the “conditions sought of persons to whom press cards are granted” set out in the Press Card Directions, Altun commented as follows in his statement:

“The Communications Ministry has since its inception furnished new press cards to 13,372 media members whose assessment processes have been completed. Included among this number are media workers having very different designations from all media entities on a national and local scale. The number of applications currently undergoing perusal is 894. Taken account of in this process, alongside technical criteria, are such various factors as whether applicants indeed conduct professional activity or have connections to any terrorist organization and convictions or demeanour that is detrimental to the honour of the profession. As things stand, cancellation does not apply to any of the cards whose assessment process is underway.”

ALTUN: “THERE ARE RECIPIENTS OF NEW CARDS AT ENTITIES TO WHICH PRESS CARDS ARE ALLEGEDLY NOT BEING GIVEN”

Stressing that renewal applications for press cards not yet concluded were still active, Altun noted the following:

“Hence, claims that the cards in particular of the staff of certain media entities have been cancelled are certainly untruthful. Just as there are those in all entities who have received new press cards, there are those who continue to undergo assessment. The mere existence of recipients of new press cards at entities to which press cards are allegedly not being given gives lie to this bad-faith endeavour. The necessary communications will be made to applicants on completion of the process relating to applications undergoing continued assessment.”

FACT: NOT A SINGLE JOURNALIST AT EVRENSEL HAS HAD THEIR CARD RENEWED

In his statement, Altun spoke of the “existence of recipients of new press cards at entities to which press cards are allegedly not being given” but the press card has not been renewed of even a single journalist who works as part of Evrensel and has made their application from Evrensel newspaper.

However much Altun says, “Claims that cards have been cancelled are certainly untruthful,” the press cards of many journalists were seen to have been cancelled last week on the Communications Ministry press card search screen. Yesterday (Sunday 26 January), however, the cancelled cards appeared to have been restored.

Article by EVRENSEL DAILY

 

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“The political wing” of “FETÖ”

As all know, is it not Erdoğan and the AKP who has not only been “the political wing of the coup” or Gülen but its partner? Was there not a partnership of power?

First and foremost, my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the Elazığ earthquake. And my get-well-soon wishes to the injured survivors.

Everyone should take note of the efforts by the Governor of Elazığ and those who have a stake in the city’s administration on behalf of the government to manage the public’s perception so as to avail AKP to emerge unscathed from the events rather than attending to those killed and injured.

And another lesson should also be derived from government officials who allude to “fate” with their talks of “what can we do, we are powerless, the earthquake is God’s work”! There were experts in the subject who warned against the possibility of an earthquake in Elazığ four months ago. As for an earthquake in Istanbul, it is just around the corner, with expectations of its imminent arrival. If the incidents are to be associated with God then one could presumably retort “may God rehabilitate you” to the Government representatives who are currently taking legal action against Berna Laçin for her criticism of deferring the matter to God and the measures taken. How can one have a government like this? It won’t take any measures, remaining a bystander while the earthquake causes such a death toll and then it blames and takes legal action against those who deign to question this state of affairs! No conscience could accept this; it is a sign for those on their way out.

We also witness the same approach of inverting the truth on the matter of Fethullah Gülen.

It is not unknown that the Gülen Congregation, just as the vast majority of congregations, is directly involved in politics as it doesn’t limit itself as an Islamic congregation and is actively concerned with “worldly blessings”.  Such political Islam have caused the bloodbaths in Iraq and Syria with beheadings and people burned alive through ISIS and the confrontation with a Islamic coup in Turkey through “FETÖ”. And now, through the agency of Muslim Brotherhood, it is inducing Turkey to look for adventures in Libya after Syria. It is uncontentious that behind it all there lies the monopolistic capitalist interest with their green dollars. Considered from this fundamental truth, it is uncontentious that it is not the barefooted poor Aczmendis who were wandering around in the days of 28 February [1997 coup] with sticks in their hands and hooded cloaks on their backs but the Islamic congregations holding the such and such state position and offices while hoarding fortune upon fortune, who pose a threat to the people.

The Gülen Congregation or FETÖ, was but only one of these congregations and it is known that state offices have been apportioned by others now. This ministry or directorship belongs to this, and the other to that…

Who does this or is paving the way for it? Is it me? Or is it CHP which the chums of the power filling the government and its subservient media’s columns and the programs of TV channels claim to be the “political wing of FETÖ”? Is it Sözcü or Cumhuriyet newspapers which has been taken to court for being “proponents of FETÖ”? Even HAYAT TV, the voice of millions was closed down with the pretext provided by the “FETÖ coup”!

Who is “FETÖ’s political wing?” Erdoğan is pointing to the CHP. The MHP chieftain Bahçeli concurs with this only to add Akşener [the leader of İyi Parti]. What kind of conscience accepts such allegations? The product of which conscience are these?

In the days of the “struggle against military tutelage,” Erdoğan had proclaimed himself as the judge of the Ergenekon [court case], the entire chain of command was imprisoned including Başbuğ, the Chief of General Staff. Who could deny that this “operation” was organised by the Gülen Congregation? A blatant public spectacle was enacted by the prosecutors under the command of Zekeriya Öz and the judges who were later arrested and tried because of “FETÖ’ism”. How were the FETÖ’ists” presented with this opportunity? Was this possible if it were not for the support and backing by Erdoğan who was proclaiming himself as the prosecutor?

As all know, is it not Erdoğan and the AKP who has not only been “the political wing of the coup” or Gülen but its partner? Was there not a partnership of power? Was it not the case that so many prime ministers, ministers and deputies use to go to Pennsylvania to kiss Gülen’s hand and hold meetings with him? This fact is of an absolutely undeniable kind. Was it not the case that Gülen used to be treated with highest esteem as “his Worship” by primarily Erdoğan and the AKP entourage? Are these not documented in TV archives?

Later on, beginning with “FETÖ”s attempt to start legal proceeding against Hakan Fidan whom Erdoğan called “my black box,” their relationships deteriorated and a period of confrontation ensued. From this point onwards, it is not the case that efforts by “FETÖ” to meddle with other positions were not unseen. Yet, this does not change the fact either that AKP was the partner in power of the “FETÖ” or that this power is full of those with wads of mingling with FETÖ.

Article by Mustafa Yalciner

Posted on Evernensel Daily

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