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Turkey in a Week, January 28th , 2019

Ayşen Gruda, one of the most beloved movie actress of all times lost her life at the age of 74. Gruda played in a number of movies that are accepted as the top Turkish comedy and revered today as cult classics. She had a long and extraordinary career in service of Turkey’s movie industry.

On the Kerch straits two cargo ships burst into flames while transferring fuel. There was also an explosion on one of the ships, both of which were sailing under the colors of Tanzania. 16 of the total crew of the ships were Turkish citizens and while four were announced death and another eight were rescued. Meanwhile four other Turkish crew members are unaccounted for. In the incident a total of eleven crew members were dead and 14 were rescued. The Kerch straits had also been on the news last month regarding the risen tensions between Russia and Ukraine after Russia had seized two Ukrainian naval boats and had unilaterally closed the straits for international traffic.

On January 24th, Journalist Uğur Mumcu was remembered on the 26th anniversary of his assassination. Mumcu was killed by a car bomb in front of his house in 1993. The period was a dark page in Turkey’s history. Mumcu, known for his active journalism on the ‘deep state’ and the political Islamic movements in Turkey, had been a target of many illegal organizations within and out of the state. The culprits of the assassination have not been yet identified and the incident have not been illuminated. The assassination has been one of the sources of conspiracies in Turkish politics and still been debated today.

Leyla Güven, the PDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) MP of Hakkari and the co-president of the DTK (Congress of Democratic Society) was released from prison at the 81st day of an ongoing hunger strike at Diyarbakır Prison. After her release, she stated that she would continue the hunger strike. Meanwhile a number of MPs as well as party members are still on hunger strike which demands lifting the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the former leader of the illegal PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) who has been serving for life. PKK had launched a guerilla warfare against Turkey and the military in 1984. Öcalan had been captured by the Turkish authorities in Nairobi in 1999 by a covert operation.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced its candidates for 145 districts and cities after a long (of 18 hours) and seemingly controversial caucus meeting. After the meeting İzmir MP Sevda Erden Kılıç resigned from her post on the party assembly caucus. Most notable of the announced decisions was party’s İzmir candidate Tunç Soyer. İzmir is known to be the primary stronghold of RPP since the first multi party elections. For the coming local elections, the ruling JDP aims at winning in three largest metropolitans, İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir. Overall the polls seem to show that while the JDP have a very tight lead and even in some polls behind the main opposition in Ankara and İstanbul, however, JDP also seems to be gaining ground in İzmir voters. Hence, the İzmir candidate is a subject of controversy within the Republican Party circles.

On 26th of January, a group of Kurdish civilians has gathered at the Turkish military base in Duhok, Kurdistan Region of Iraq in protest to the Turkish air strikes and resulting civilian casualties. The group demanded dismantling of the Turkish military base, a stop to air raids and also demanded the PKK to leave the region. The protests gave way to a physical conflict between the protesters and the military. A civilian lost his life and the base was blasted. The Regional government promised Turkey to find the culprits and bring them to justice.

After two weeks of bad weather conditions, especially the heavy snowfall in the central and eastern parts of the country, this week the south was hit with extremely heavy rainfall and storms. Antalya suffered the most after it was hit by a strong stormy weather and a whirlwind. There has been a tremendous amount of material damage in the fields, greenhouses and touristic establishments.

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