Turkish Military and Politics

Former admirals’ public criticism of the government over a new canal project in Istanbul would be a new gift to the Turkish leader whose popularity suffers during the pandemic.

President Erdogan and the Turkish military leadership during a ceremony at Ataturk’s Mausoleum.

At least 103 retired admirals penned down a statement (or memorandum in the military lexicon) to criticize the Turkish government’s intent to build a new canal in Istanbul that would call into question the Montreux Treaty that regulates international shipping through Turkey’s straits that links the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea via the Sea of Marmara. For a country rich with military takeovers of the civilian rule in the past, the admirals’ public demonstration of their displeasure about the state of affairs in Turkey in general, and the canal project in particular, has understandably stirred public controversy.

The statement…


Turkey’s season of mysterious disappearances is back after a purged public worker went missing in Ankara.

An archive photo shows former legal advisor Huseyin Galip Kucukozyigit shakes hands with former President Abdullah Gul in the early 2010s.

On Feb. 17, Huseyin Galip Kucukozyigit, a high-profile former public official who previously worked as a legal advisor in the now-defunct Public Ministry, turned 48. This past Wednesday was his birthday. But there was little motivation for a celebration among his family members. It has been more than 50 days since he mysteriously disappeared without leaving a trace behind, plunging his family into a desperate search for his whereabouts amid renewed fears about his wellbeing.

On Dec. 29, Kucukozyigit left his office in the Maltepe district of Ankara on a cold December day. Purged by an emergency decree during the…


Human Rights And Politics

A Turkish court’s approval of a prison sentence against a lawmaker reveals the depth of anxiety in the government regarding human rights activism.

Turkish police tries to stop lawmaker Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu in Ankara in this archive photo.

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu.

A physician. A former academic. A citizen. A father. A lawmaker and a human rights activist. One of the most iconic figures of the post-2016 era is now facing what hundreds of thousands already went through: imprisonment.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld a prison sentence against the lawmaker, paving the way for the deprivation of his seat in Parliament in the latest setback for human rights efforts in Turkey.

“It has been determined that the suspect has shared a link to a news article that included a statement by the PKK armed terrorist organisation, and in…


‘Boğazımı kesen bıçağı yalamam’ diyen Ahmet Turan Alkan’ın çok değil iki sene sonra bıçağı tutan eli öpüp af dilenmesini nasıl anlamak gerek?

Yazarlar Ahmet Altan (soldaki) ve Ahmet Alkan.

15 Temmuz rejiminin bir deprem gibi bütün toplumsal mahalleleri, kamu vicdanını ve entellektüel ahlakı yerle bir etmesi akabinde kollektif bellekte iz bırakan birkaç direniş öyküsü, mahkemede yaşanan destansı bir savunma ve hattı karşı iddianame, bir jenerasyona mal olacak jenerik bir ifadeye imza atan edebiyatçı bir yazarın mahkeme salonundaki sözleri var. Ta ki düne kadar.

“Boğazımı kesen bıçağı yalamam,” demişti Ahmet Turan Alkan, hem bir yazar hem de edebiyat profesörü.

Turan Alkan’ın hikayesi Sivasla başlar. Beyaz Türk Engin Ardıç’ın adeta Ankara’ya bir ‘Yaban’ gibi gelen Cumhuriyet aydınını andırır bir şekilde Sivası züppece aşağılamasına içerleyen Alkan, biraz Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’dan mülhem bir…


The picking of a loyalist as caretaker to lead Turkey’s most prestigious university reveals Erdogan’s longstanding push to totally subdue the academic landscape.

Anti-riot police use tear gas to disperse protesting students in front of Istanbul Bogazici University on Monday. (Photo Credit: AP)

The appointment of Melih Bulu by the president as the new rector of Istanbul-based Bogazici University, Turkey’s most elite college, and the subsequent mayhem that followed on Monday has once again revealed that the war on academia is far from over. The battle between students and the anti-riot police in Istanbul, when seen from the prism of the country’s recent political context, had indeed a prologue. …


Candidates (new prosecutors and judges who are on the shortlist) wait in excitement for their new appointment posts in this archive photo from 2016.

The secular obsession with the hijab as an anathema to the constitutional principle of laicism rekindles an arcane debate around identity politics and culture wars in Turkey.

When I go before a judge wearing a headscarf while I’m on trial, I doubt that she would protect my rights and do justice to me. (Fikri Saglar, former CHP lawmaker)

A former lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said those words at a televised debate program on Halk TV last week. His remarks rekindled an old but “recently settled” matter of the dress code in the public service. …


Amid newfound enthusiasm, hopes, and subtle cynicism ignited by a pandemic and increasing poverty in 2020, what 2021 would bring to Turkey was a mystery. Until a picture from a hospital.

A woman, who just gave birth to a baby in a hospital in Ankara, terrifyingly looks at a police officer waiting for her arrest.

As the entire world embraced the new year with an exalted hope that 2020 would be part of history after going through a brutal stress test ignited by a global pandemic, warming climate, ravaging wildfires, famine in some countries, racial and ethnic violence, the expectations about 2021 were sky-high. The arrival of the new year, under the lights of the increasing vaccinations across the world, has unmistakably brought fresh hopes to an unsettled world teetering on edge amid a global surge in Covid-19 cases.

Turkey also entered 2021 amid this confused global mood of hope and caution, perseverance and dithering…


Uighurs across the world seek Ankara’s snub of Chinese demand for the extradition of Uighurs as a perceived precondition for the shipment of Covid vaccines to Turkey.

After China announced this past weekend that it ratified an extradition deal signed with Turkey back in 2017, Uighurs around the world marshaled their efforts to persuade Ankara to spurn the agreement that envisions sending back Uighur Turks stranded across Turkey. The latest move startled Uighurs and generated an abiding source of concern about the state of their brethren, the majority of whose legal status is far from being properly settled in Turkey.

What animated the recent round of debate was the allegations of a precondition put by China for the shipment of Covid-19 vaccines to Turkey. This last-minute change…


Justice and Politics

While the ECHR ruling establishes that the rights of purge victims were violated in Turkey after the coup, it unwittingly justifies the entire legal context of the emergency rule.

The European Court of Human Rights in a session. (Photo Courtesy: ECHR)

In a landmark decision that could set a precedent, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) unanimously ruled last week that the rights of a purge victim, Hamit Piskin, were violated by the Turkish authorities in the aftermath of 2016. The outcome has generated mixed reactions across Turkey. As observers and purge victims were braced for the long-anticipated ruling, it not only created a glimmer of hope but also radiated anxiety over the long-term implications for the ongoing trials in Turkey.

While many embraced it as a welcoming step vindicating the gross violations that took place during the sweeping purge…


MEDIA AND POLITICS

Sirin Payzin, a former anchorwoman at CNN Turk, confesses that the selection of guest contributors was recently shaped by the government. But her confession is too late, too little.

Sirin Payzin confessed that guest lists for her programs were imposed by the government.

A famous journalist offered a scathing account of the mounting political pressure on Turkish media from a personal angle. “The blacklisted figures was relayed by our Ankara bureau chief,” Sirin Payzin, a former anchorwoman and moderator in CNN Turk, recently revealed in an acknowledgment of the government’s extended sway over the editorial policies of the channel over the past decade. Payzin noted that politicians from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) were banished from programs at the behest of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) Party. …

Abdullah Ayasun

Virginia-based journalist and writer. Politics, culture, art, and technology. American political affairs, Turkey, the MidEast, and beyond. Twitter: @abyasun

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store