Turkey in a Week, March 25th, 2019

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The court announced its decision on the case 20 lawyers, 6 of which has been arrested, from the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) and the People’s Law Office (HHB). The arrestee lawyers had been on hunger strike for 55 days before the proceeding and had demanded recusation of the judge committee. The recusation was declined and the at the final proceeding the defendants were found guilty of being members and leaders of terrorist organizations. Former president of the Progressive Lawyers Association Selçuk Kozağaçlı was sentenced to ten years and fifteen months of imprisonment while Barkın Timtik was sentenced to 18 years and 9 months, Ebru Timtik and Özgür Yılmaz to 13 years and 6 months and Behiç Aşçı and Şükrüye Erden to 12 years of imprisonment. All the defendants were sentenced to prison penalties the lowest being 3 years and 9 months. The arrestee lawyers announced the end of the hunger strike. The Progressive Lawyers Association and the People’s Law Office were closed by a decree law issued during the state of emergency declared after the failed coup attempt in July 15, 2016.

New Zealand’s foreign minister Winston Peters came to Turkey to join the foreign ministry committee meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Peters met with president Erdoğan. President Erdoğan had showed the footage of the attack repeatedly at elections rallies and claimed, “They are testing us from 16 500 km away, from New Zealand, with the message given from there. This isn’t an individual act, this is organized.” New Zealand’s foreign minister had condemned the use of footage in rallies and the New Zealand government criticized the president Erdoğan. After the meeting the foreign minister Peters told that the misunderstandings had been cleared between New Zealand and Turkey.

The US president Donald Trump tweeted a massage stating that it was time to recognize the İsraeli sovereignty over Golan Heights. In response president Tayyip Erdoğan, at the committee meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, told that Turkey would never let the Golan Height occupation justified.

Last week, nother libel investigation was opened, adding to an enormous number of cases at the courts. An investigation was initiated against a bus driver who had allegedly used a newspaper sheet showing president Tayyip Erdoğan to cover the wet floor of his vehicle. The driver was interrogated by the police.

Turkish Airlines joined the increasing number of airliners to cancel flights of its Boeing 737 Max type fleet.

The Turkish statistical Institute announced the unemployment rates for November. The all time high figures point out the severity of the economic recession during the last quarter of 2018. According to the report the number of unemployed has risen to a record level of almost 4 million. Consequently the unemployment rate has risen 2 points to the level of 12.3 per cent, which was 11.6 per cent by October. The non agricultural unemployment rate is 14.3 per cent while youth unemployment rate has increased 4.3 points and reached 23.6 per cent. The same rate for the labor force between 15 to 64 years old has risen 2.1 point and reached 12.6 per cent. The share of informal employment stayed at a stable level at 33.7 per cent. On the other hand according to the DİSK-AR (Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey Research Department) report on the unemployment profile of the country the broadly defined unemployment (U6) has reached in November (the average of October, November and December) to 6 million 646 thousand which amounts to a 19.3 per cent unemployment rate.

A tragic terror attack has been reported in Christchurch, New Zealand where a far right terrorist has attacked two mosques and killed 50 and injured many others. President Erdoğan showed the footage of the attack repeatedly at elections rallies and claimed, “They are testing us from 16 500 km away, from New Zealand, with the message given from there. This isn’t an individual act, this is organized.” New Zealand’s foreign minister condemned the use of footage in rallies and the New Zealand government criticized the president Erdoğan. The opposition also criticized and condemned president’s actions reminding his own statements regarding showing terrorist acts in media was a way of supporting terrorism.

Meanwhile, an EksiSözlük writer (an internet anonymous share platform) was arrested in Alanya after his/her remarks praising the Christchurch massacre on the platform.