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No access to basic rights for decree-law victims 

A sizeable number of Turkish citizens do not have access to fundamental rights. Erdogan regime labels them in three letters: “KHK,” which is the Turkish abbreviation for decrees that have the force of law enacted by emergency powers, also known as decree-laws.

The social security numbers of these people are flagged with certain numbers for all employers and institutions to recognize that they are blacklisted by the government.

They are barred from civil service, they are not permitted to have a passport, banks do not give loans them, in some cases they don’t even open accounts, and it is near-impossible for these people to find a job in the private sector.

Thousands of these people, most of whom are college graduates, are in prison.

Many decree-laws were issued after the state of emergency that was declared after the controversial July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. KHK is the abbreviation for Decree-Laws.

With these so-called temporary measures, about 150 thousand public employees were dismissed. The majority of them are Gulen Movement affiliates. Some of them are pro-Kurdish and leftist activists.

The government defends the dismissal of thousands of people, pointing at the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin defends the actions of the Erdogan administration with the following words; “after the merger, 500 thousand public employees in East Germany were dismissed.” However, in Germany, these people were paid compensation and benefited from the welfare state rights.

In Turkey, on the other hand, health insurance and social assistance card that is called “green card” is not given to the people dismissed by decree-laws. One hundred fifty thousand people dismissed by decree-laws were not paid compensation too.

Even withdrawing money from banks is a problem

Teacher Suzan Uzpak’s brother sent money to her from abroad. The bank officer said that she couldn’t pay the amount that was sent by a Vakıfbank transaction. Uzpak was told that it was due to her dismissal by a decree-law. “The system gave a ‘banned’ warning, and similar occasions occurred previously too,” bank officials said.

Another victim of the decree-laws announced on Twitter that Garanti Bank resisted not to open a bank account on his name. Upon public pressure, Garanti Bank had to backtrack. However, the memo sent by the bank read, “We are just opening an account; you do not have the right to use loans, EFT, wire transfer, and internet banking.” The Spanish BBVA owns Garanti Bank. This practice became the subject of a heated debate in Turkey as many questioned the possibility of such demands being made by a bank operating in an EU member country elsewhere in Europe.

Insurance Company did not make the due payment

What H.B. experienced is more striking. His wife had a car accident. Doğa Insurance did not pay the 20,000 Liras damage citing the ownership of the vehicle, for it belonged to a person dismissed by a decree-law.

In Turkey, the banks and insurance companies are monitored by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Board (BDDK), which regulates the financial sector. Board sent an official letter and a blacklist to banks warning them not to make any transaction for the people dismissed by decree-laws.

Social services denied

Teachers make up the majority of people dismissed by decree-laws; almost all of them are university graduates and well-educated people. However, they cannot find jobs due to the decree-law codes that appear on their social security records. Teacher Cemil Özen is one of them. He says they were left to starvation for three years. His application for the Green Card that is obtainable for the poorest group of people in Turkey was rejected because he was one of the people dismissed by a decree-law.

Leaving the country is also forbidden

People dismissed by decree-laws are sentenced to civil death in Turkey, and they are likewise not allowed to go abroad. Seher Kılıç, one of the most qualified people who could find work abroad, tells her experiences as follows: “I haven’t been able to get a passport for three and a half years. I asked why I couldn’t obtain a passport with an application letter. They said there is annotation next to my identity number ‘Banned, Passport cannot be given.’ My credit cards were canceled, I can’t get new ones. I have problems withdrawing the money sent by my family who lives in abroad.”

Mehmet Alkan, who was expelled from the Turkish Armed Forces, is a graduate of the Faculty of Law. However, he cannot work because his lawyer’s certificate has been canceled: Being one of a decree-law dismissed people means you are socially banned. You have no rights at all.”

Ayşe Düzkan, the interim editor of the Özgür Gündem daily which was shut down through a decree-law, tells about the actions of the HSCB, an international bank: “After I got out of prison, HSCB didn’t want to provide service to me. No calls were made to notify me. One day I couldn’t withdraw money from the ATM. I called the bank and found out that they blocked my accounts. I got my money from the office, and my cards were canceled.”

Working for private companies is no option

The reason why thousands of people who were dismissed by decree-laws such as doctors, teachers, police, and engineers cannot find a career in the private sector is the “Banned” annotation that appears next to their social security numbers. Authorities issue separate codes for those who were dismissed from the civil service, those who graduated from schools that were shut down by decree-laws or who are subscribed to newspapers that were shut down similarly.

For instance, some people have the annotation “36” inscribed next to their social security number. When they apply for a job, employers who do not want to draw the ire of the government or tax officers see that annotation and do not employ them.

Thousands of well-educated citizens of Turkey, they can neither go abroad because of travel bans nor find a job in Turkey. Some of these people, who are exposed to civil death, lost their lives while attempting to flee Turkey illegally.

English teacher Uğur Abdurrezzak and his wife Ayşe Abdurezzak, a Turkish-language teacher, were among them. They were both dismissed by a decree-law over their affiliations with the Gulen Movement. The whole family perished along with their children, eleven, and three years old. Their boat capsized as they tried to cross the border with Greece through the Maritza river.

The people dismissed by decree-laws in Turkey established a Youtube channel called KHKTV, as they try to have their voice heard. The decree-law platforms, which they founded in various provinces, are constantly under pressure from the government, and the authorities frequently ban the meetings they want to hold.


Corruption redefined in Turkey – Donating to foundations of Erdogan’s children

The foundations managed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s children made a fortune that amounts to billions of USD in the last couple of years.

Turkey’s wealthiest businessmen are lining up to donate to TURKEN and ENSAR foundations, which are owned by the Erdoğan family.

Erdogan regime encountered two significant graft probes in 2013, on December 17 and 25. In a bid to dodge the charges against it, the Erdogan regime called the probes “a judicial coup,” expelled all the cops, judges and prosecutors who took part in the probes, having them arrested on terror charges later on.

Due to the example laid bare, currently, no prosecutor ever dares to launch a graft probe against Erdogan administration.

Even if there are no probes launched against corruption allegations, Turkey falls back in the corruption index every year.

The latest corruption scandal landed amid the rescue efforts for the victims of the quake that struck the eastern city of Elazığ recently, taking a toll of 42 deaths.

The Red Crescent of the country (Kızılay) started a fund-raising drive for the quake victims. However, there was already a big jump in the numbers Kızılay received in the last few years.

A few documents that leaked from the bureaucracy which is under immense pressure from the government illustrated that Kızılay served as a cover for the donations made to Erdoğan family’s foundations.

Business people who received tenders from the state had been making donations to Kızılay sealed with conditional protocols. Protocols stipulated that donations should be directed to ENSAR or TURKEN foundations.

This way, business people deduct the money from their bank accounts as deposits to Turkish Red Crescent, but in reality, they give the money to the Erdoğan family.

The first revealed case was about Torunlar Holding. The Başkentgaz company, owned by Torunlar Holding, which won the tender for natural gas distribution to the capital city of Ankara, had donated USD 8 million to Kızılay. There was a catch, though. There was a specification in terms of reference that stipulated the transfer of the donation to the ENSAR foundation exclusively.

ENSAR and TURKEN keep operating as Erdoğan’s long arm abroad. The operations of the Erdoğan regime to found schools and dorms in Africa, America, and Europe are carried out via these two foundations.

The bigger and more complicated case emerged in Istanbul. It was about 96,400 square meters of land located between the two older bridges of Bosphorus valued in billions of dollars.

The land belonged to the Silahtar Abdullah Ağa foundation, which existed since the days of the Ottoman Empire. The government seized the property of the foundation after the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey.

Authorities designated this 96,400 square meters land as an assembly area, for it would be a safe space in the case of an earthquake.

In order to build luxury residences on this valuable land, a protocol was signed with KIPTAŞ, the construction organization of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, on February 24, 2012.

KIPTAŞ, on the other hand, shook hands with Torunlar GYO as contractors, the construction company of the Torunlar Holding.

According to the contract, 54,28 percent of the residences to be built on the billions of dollars worth glebe land would belong to Torunlar, 45,72 would belong to KIPTAŞ. The Directorate General of Foundations received nothing as the landowner.

All this info was a secret for the year 2014 because the Erdogan regime had displaced hundreds of judges, prosecutors, and cops that year. The country was in utter silence.

This information comes into light only after years of research conducted.

The corruption aspect of the incident is not only limited to the granting of billions of dollars worth of land owned by the state to the pro-gov’t Torunlar Holding.

After the project had finished, Başkentgaz company granted 31 workplaces to the TURKEN foundation led by Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan.

Torunlar GYO, which undertook the construction project, did not donate directly, not to attract unwanted attention. Başkentgaz bought these places and gave them to TURKEN. Torunlar built 2961 residences and workplaces on the land and constructed the largest media center of the country besides these residences.

The media center, with a 300 thousand indoor space, was given to the pro-Erdogan Sabah daily and ATV channel network owned by the brother of Erdoğan’s son-in-law.

A portion of the land was utilized for a campus of the Bezmi Alem University, which is controlled by President Erdoğan’s spouse Emine Erdoğan.

Donations cover bribery

Instead of the word “bribery,” the word “donation” is trending in Turkey these days. It is almost obligatory for businesses working with the government to donate money to foundations either close to the AK Party government or directly related to the Erdoğan family. These donations are exempt from tax for most of the cases.

The system explained above is not just for big government tenders or lands. The small towns have the same system as well. The local business people who are obliged to do business with the AK Party governed municipalities are compelled to donate to the foundations determined by the municipality. The amounts of these donations are usually fixated to the 20 percent of their estimated profits off the tender at hand.


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Back to the future

It is back to the future in Middle East, with Turkey following the path of Egyp in 1950s. In 1955 a group of Egyptian officers -self-dubbed “Free Officer’s Movement”- took power after a coup and went on campaign of purge in military circles to solidify their hold on power and coup-proof Egyptian Armed Forces.

Free Officer’s practice of; Post-coup purges, attempting to replace lost expertise and competency with Russian weapons, and constant involvement in conflicts, looks eerily similar to what Turkey has been going through in the last three and a half years. It is almost like watching a remake of an old movie, for which you already know the tragic and devastating ending.

Post-2016 “coup” Turkish political leadership looks strikingly like the “Free Officer’s Movement” of Egypt, with Erdogan replacing the similarly built Gamel Abdel Nasr as the leader of actor and Akar playing the devious commander in chief Field Marshall Amer. Nasser emerged from the 1952 coup as the key leader and 1956, introduced a new constitution that consolidated his power. Erdogan had a head start on political power and managed to complete transformation to authoritarian regime within two years. Just as Amr Nasser’s extended arm to control armed forces, Akar oversaw the military purges and established himself as the intermediary on Erdogan death grip over Turkish Armed Forces.

The similarity does not stop with the actors, after the 1952 coup, the Free Officers went on a purge spree to eliminate all officers that are not aligned with the movement from Egyptian Armed Forces. Field Marshal Amr turned the Egyptian Armed Forces into his private fiefdom, systematically replacing all the top military leaders with cronies loyal to new regime. Air force was hit hardest. By the time Sinai Suez crisis rolled about Egyptian Air Force had only 30 qualified pilots to fly its 120 Mig-15s.EAF was only able to put out a measly 50 sorties of all types in the first day of the conflict on 30 October. The second day was a little better, but there was no third day as British and French airstrikes destroyed most of the operational planes, rest was retrieved to south to spare them from the same eventuality.

Erdogan and Akar followed the footsteps of Nasser and Amr. The Turkish Air Force in early 2016 boasted having one of the most significant air forces in NATO and more importantly being close to 1,5/1pilot/seat fighter manning, nad 180 yearly flight hours training standards set by NATO. Erdogan’s purge claimed 670 trained and experienced pilots in less than a year and bringing down the pilot/seat ration to a shocking 0,3. The result was such devastating that Erdogan had to ask Russia fora in support in operations over Syria despite having 200 modernised F-16s waiting on tarmac.

Just as buying Mig-15’s did little to save Nasser from the repeated embarrassing losses, Erdogan’s acquisition of S-400 and recent interest in buying Su-57 will do little in improving real fighting power of the Turkish Air Force. The student of airpower have repeatedly seen that higher training and better doctrine can be overwhelming despite both sides having similarly capable aircraft. F-35 vs Su-35 or Su-57debate is flawed for Turkey, as the real differences in capability will come from the training and doctrine. The Mig-15 and F-86 were comparable aircraft in Korean war, but that didn’t stop F-86 pilots from achieved 8:1 kill ratio against North Korean and Chinese pilots. Despite having latest Soviet fighter Mig-21 at the time, Nasser’s Air Force got repeatedly obliterated by similarly capable Mirages in 1967 and later 1973.

Equipment can not replace competency, is a lesson hard-learned by the Nasser regime in 1690 and 1970s. Erdogan appears to be on the same track and no doubt will face the same time-honoured lesson


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Human Rights

Jailed cadet’s mother stands up against oppression, conquers fear

Melek Çetinkaya is the mother of a jailed 19 years-old former cadet. A campaign led by her broke the spell cast by the Erdogan regime’s reign of terror. She gets detained by police whenever she steps outside her home. However, she has no intention to remain silent.

Lives of millions in Turkey turned upside down on July 15, 2016, with the coup attempt Erdogan labeled as “a gift from God.”

Cadets, many 18-19 years of age, were among those arrested on the night of the coup bid. Çetinkaya’s 19 years old son was one of those students.

Her mom kept telling during post-coup trails that former cadets, including her son, did not involve in any illegal activities on the coup night and highlighted that they were taken to different locations at the behest of their superiors, without touching any weapon. And forensic reports confirmed her claims.

Lawyers of the Presidency were present in the courtroom when 256 former cadets were sentenced to life in prison. Çetinkaya’s son, Furkan, was one of them receiving a sentence of life imprisonment.

Melek Çetinkaya tried hard to have her voice heard on social media. She has taken her struggle a step further by staging protests in favor of jailed cadets in Ankara’s crowded streets.

Her fight also brought other mothers together. Cadets’ mothers got detained whenever they cried out for the plight of cadets sentenced to life in prison.

Çetinkaya has been taking to the streets for three months to draw public attention, and she was taken into police custody for hours in each attempt.

Çetinkaya, trying to reach out to the public through her Youtube channel, has announced her plan to start a “March for Justice” from Ankara to Istanbul.

She said she would hold the March for Justice for cadets sentenced to life in prison, jailed pregnant women, children in prison, and dismissed public servants.

March for Justice, which kicked off on January 19 in Ankara’s Guven Park, met a police intervention which saw the arrest of Çetinkaya along with 66 people.

Police encircled Guven Park and surrounded the protestors. It was a clear message saying that police would not allow a march of 450 km between Ankara and Istanbul.

Çetinkaya was detained right after stepping out of the metro, before making to Guven Park where the march would start.

“I am an aggrieved mom. You gave life sentences to 19 years-old cadets. We have been silent for three and a half years, but you will no longer be able to silence us. Justice will be served in this country,” Çetinkaya said while being dragged away by police.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu was among the protestors when police waded in to disperse the group. Gergerlioglu confirmed the police intervention on his twitter account, saying, “Police violently suppressed Çetinkaya’s march for justice.” He also noted that the police physically assaulted him along with other protestors.

Police held Çetinkaya in detention for hours before releasing her late in the evening. And she was detained each day when she attempted to attend the march. Police went even further by apprehending Çetinkaya right after she left her home on January 21.

Anti-Terror Police took the stage this time. Çetinkaya was taken to Ankara’s Counter-Terrorism department. She had to endure waiting for hours while facing the wall and with her hands cuffed.

Police mocked her height and questioned her about how she learned to use social media. They did not provide her with a bed or mattress, and she had to sleep on the concrete ground.

Some people recorded videos on metros and buses to raise awareness about Çetinkaya’s situation. Those who recorded videos became the target of Erdogan’s fanatics.

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