SPOT sends International Women’s Day message to women in Turkey

As we celebrate international women’s day, your growing resistance against government attacks on women’s liberty, exploitation and discrimination in the workplace, gender inequality and violence against women is an inspiration to women all over the world.

We stand with you and will continue to amplify your fight for democracy, freedom and equality in Turkey for all women!

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Erdogan’s Son-in-Law and ex-Treasury Minister still missing

Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, had resigned publicly on social media from his position as Treasury Minister on 8 November. Since then Albayrak has not been seen and suspicions mounted that Erdogan is punishing him. 

The opposition party expressed concerns about how 128bn dollars had been spent by the treasury whilst Albayrak was minister and began a campaign asking “where is the son-in-law?” In response Erdogan and Albayrak’s lawyers claimed that Albayrak is spending time with his children. However, the CHP is not content with this inadequate response and so continues to ask where Albayrak is and is calling for an explanation for 128bn dollars of spending by the treasury. Albayrak’s lawyer, Sinan Goktas has said he will be taking CHP to court for the campaign and claiming 500 thousand TL in damages. 

It is suspected that Albayrak is being kept under house arrest by Erdogan. When Albayrak resigned as Treasury Minister via social media, pro-government news outlets did not report the story out of fear of repercussions and it was only a few opposition news outlets and journalists that reported the development. Albayrak’s disappearance and suspected punishment by Erdogan is thought to be in relation to his publicly resigning from his post, not as a punishment for misusing public funds whilst in public office. 

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Police prevent 8 March exhibition organised by women’s platform

A group of women congregating to set up the “8 March women’s resistance” exhibition, organised by Avcilar Women’s Platform, were blockaded by the police. The women who were kept waiting under blockade held up photos from the exhibition and staged a sit-in protest. 

The Avcilar Women’s Platform met today at Marmara Street at the Egitim Sen Avcilar Branch to set up the “women resisting” photography exhibition. The women who wanted to make a public call for the 5 March protest in Kadikoy and 8 March protest in Taksim, were prevented as soon as they left the building. The women were forced to leave Marmara Street by the police blockade. The police also tried to prevent journalists from capturing images. 

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Erdogan government targets opposition after failed military operation

Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir, HDP MP for Agri spoke out in response to Suleyman Soylu, Home Affairs minister, who described her as the “MP that went to Gare”. 

Tasdemir, reacted to Soylu’s claim that she had previously been to Gare where 13 people recently died, saying “If you have this evidence, why didn’t you pass this onto prosecutors? Why did you wait for the Gare operation? We know why you are doing this now. This is an operation to save your position. We know the extensive steps taken in this country to  protect your seats”. 

Pervin Buldan, HDP joint chair also added that the photos shared by Soylu with the press are from a previous visit to Qandil and that that visit was during the “peace process” and with the approval of Erdogan. The pro-government media have ignored both these statements which expose both Soylu and the government’s lies. 

On the other hand, Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu commented on the prison sentence he received, saying “I won’t bow down. If I was that type of person, I wouldn’t have been out on the squares, on political platforms, or defending human rights”. 

After the failed Gare operation 718 HDP members were arrested and investigations started into 9 MPs. This was despite the opposition parties having no knowledge of the military operation and the absence of any evidence to support the allegations against opposition party members. The Erdogan government while claiming successes for itself, lays the blame for its own failures on the opposition. 

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Boğaziçi Online Day of Action – Virtual Rally

Hundreds of academics, students, activists and trade unionists joined us in a day of action in solidarity with the Bogazici students in Turkey. Messages of support flooded in and a virtual rally was live-streamed on our facebook page.

Chaired by Baroness Christine Blower, speakers included Tariq Ali (Journalist and Writer), Jeremy Corbyn MP, Umut Turem (Bogazici Academic), Olgun Dursun (Bogazici Student), Vicky Blake (UCU President) Louise Regan (NEU/ETUC).

Find out more about the ongoing fight for academic freedom in Turkey and be inspired by the messages of support and commitment to international solidarity.

Our online rally is available to watch below:

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Gare operation being used as an excuse for further crackdown in Turkey

The illegal assault of Turkish military in the Iraqi region of Gare has devastating consequences both for Turkey and the region.

The attack on Gare, where 13 Turkish security personnel held captive by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and 53 Kurdish guerrillas lost their lives alongside 3 high-ranking Turkish military officials conducting the assault, has raised many questions.

The families of the killed security personnel had been carrying out various activities via official channels for their relatives release since 2016.

Opposition parties have accused the government of failing to act for a peaceful release of the captives since the calls for negotiation made by Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were left unanswered by the Islamist AKP regime in the past six years.

“The government itself must be held accountable before the families of the captives and the public. (…) We call on national and international human rights organisations to take action to investigate the incident and the ensuing deaths in full detail.” said HDP in a statement. 

Ozturk Turkdogan, IHD co-chair, said that the killing of 13 people was a “war crime” and added that “An effective investigation should be carried out by impartial and independent bodies.”

Meanwhile AKP and its nationalist ally instantly vowed to expand operations against PKK.

“We will expand our operations into areas where threats are still dense. We will stay in the areas we secure as long as necessary to prevent similar attacks again.” said Erdogan.

Immediately after the incident, Communication Director of Erdogan released a video accusing HDP -the second biggest opposition party in the parliament- of being equal to PKK.

Analysts commented on the event saying that it looks like an operation designed entirely with domestic politics in mind; as an opportunity to put pressure on the Kurds, Bogazici students and other dissidents and as a path towards closing down the HDP before the elections. More than 700 people who have supported these comments and expressed similar criticisms have been arrested in Turkey since Monday for alleged PKK support, including HDP’s remaining provincial and district chairs.

It is evident that the regime in Turkey is using the death toll – that they caused themselves – as a pretext for new military invasions across the region, a way further to crackdown on dissidents inside Turkey and move toward a total authoritarianism.

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Turkey accelerates steps towards facism as 718 people arrested in 40 provinces in 24 hours

Anybody who dares to criticise or defend the truth faces arrest and imprisonment in Turkey. The oppression of opposition groups, particularly HDP members continues. 

In the past 24 hours house raids and police operations have taken place in 40 provinces. 718 people, including HDP members and leadership,  have been arrested. The arrests in provinces such as Sirnak, Agri, Diyarbakir, Urfa, Van, Mardin, Siirt, Hakkari, Mersin and Elazig are a response to criticism expressed by those arrested against the state’s military operation on Gare in Iraq. 

On Saturday, the Turkish military organised an operation on Gare and no effort was made to rescue the 13 hostages held by the PKK, instead the Turkish military bombed the area with no calculations or precautions in place. Those who are saying that Erdogan and the Government should be held responsible for the deaths of the 13 soldiers who were held hostage are all being arrested. The immediate mass arrest and censorship of any criticism raises further concern about the speed at which facism is being established in the country. 

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Poverty and desperation in Turkey lead to increasing suicides amongst workers

The deep socio-economic crisis under the AKP regime has led to working families and individuals facing poverty and desperation, with an increase in suicides particularly amongst young people. 

Unal Cetinkaya, a 25 year old construction worker killed himself in what appears to be one of a series of five suicides in the last five days in Kocaeli, Turkey.

“These are my final hours. I never wanted to do this but I cannot cope with the financial trouble.” Cetinkaya said in his suicide note.

Tugay Adak (28), Ahmet Tari (26), Samet Ozer (32) and Kadir Gunduz (28) also committed suicide at the same province in the last week to escape hunger and extreme poverty.

There is a strong correlation between the socio-economic circumstances in Turkey and suicidal despair. As the political and economic conditions deteriorate in the country, deaths from suicide cannot be seen as isolated individual cases.

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Writer and women’s activist Aysen Sahin arrested

Aysen Sahin, writer at Evrensel newspaper and women’s rights activist was arrested at her home today and taken to İstanbul Police Headquarters. She shared news of her arrest on Twitter saying “Friends police are at the door, I am being taken to Vatan Police Station. I will get changed and leave. I was unable to let people know individually”. 

Evrensel Chief Editor Fatih Polat, stated that the police have not given a reason for arrest but that it is possibly in relation to the Bogazici protests. 

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Student remanded in custody for insulting President Erdogan because her phone number ends in 12

Beyza Buldag, a fine arts student at Mimar Sinan university, has been arrested in relation to the Bogazici protests. In her questioning by prosecutors, she was accused of “insulting the president” and inciting the public to hatred and hostility through her posts on Twitter. The reason cited for the allegation was the use of account @boundayanisma and that the phone number registered to the account ended in 12. 

The purported link was that President Erdogan is the 12th president of Turkey. After her statement was taken, Buldag was referred to the court with an application for her to remain in custody. Buldag was remanded in custody by the court for having “incited the public to hatred”. 

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