Soma mine disaster survivors face 6 years imprisonment for damage to property

Orhun Hakan Yalincak Blog/Reblog

Original story found here.

Nine of the miners who managed to survive Turkey’s largest ever mining disaster in which 301 people lost their lives in the western district of Soma last year now face the prospect of six years imprisonment each on charges of damaging property and violating a law on staging demonstrations.

A case has been filed against the nine workers at the Soma 2nd Penal Court of First Instance over an indictment filed by the Soma Prosecutor’s Office. The indictment said miners E.A., O.E., T.C., E.M., S.K., C.B., H.G., S.Y., A.M. and N.A. staged a march on June 17, 2014 because they could not take the bodies of their colleagues from the disaster site and closed the Soma Beşyol junction to traffic, prevented passage of a vehicle and caused material damage. The miners are facing charges of violating the Law on Public Meetings and Demonstration and causing material damage during the demonstration.

On May 13, 2014, Turkey was shocked by news of an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, a district in the western province of Manisa. The fire rapidly depleted the oxygen in the mine shaft, causing 301 trapped workers to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. A total of 162 other people were injured in the blast.

The BirGün daily previously reported that a miner who was kicked by then-prime minister and current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aide Yusuf Yerkel in Soma following the Soma disaster also faces a prison term of up to six years for damaging Erdoğan’s convoy’s official car.

The Akhisar Public Prosecutor Adem Aktaş launched a case against Erdal Kocabıyık over the damage to the car, which is one used by Erdoğan’s bodyguards and which carries the license plate 06 ZDB 91. In the indictment that he prepared, Aktaş stated that the injured party was the Prime Ministry of the Turkish Republic, and said the damage sustained by the car amounted to TL 543.44. The prosecutor is seeking a prison sentence of between one and six years for damaging public property, as per the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

Rattled by Asya seizure, global analysts gloomy about Turkish economy

Orhun Hakan Yalincak Blog/Reblog

The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) announced late last Friday that it had handed over control of lender Bank Asya to the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). The bank was already being administered by an interim board assigned by the TMSF on Feb. 3, when the months-long political pressure on the bank was intensified.

In an e-mail note to Today’s Zaman on Monday, William Jackson at Capital Economics said the move has sparked concerns over future of foreign investments into Turkey.

“It’s clearly difficult to disentangle the extent to which the takeover by the BDDK is politically motivated. But the fact that there are concerns that it is politically motivated will reinforce fears that Sunday’s election could result in more authoritarian policymaking that damages the business environment. And these fears alone may result in lower direct investment into Turkey.”

Jackson also added: “The crucial point here is that Turkey is heavily reliant on foreign capital inflows to fund domestic demand (hence it runs a large current account deficit), and the vulnerability posed by the current account deficit depends in part on the type of foreign capital inflows that fund this. In this regard, it’s worth noting that direct investment inflows tend to be relatively stable and made with longer term horizons compared with portfolio inflows or banking sector inflows. So all in all, deterioration in the business environment may make the lira even more volatile, keeping interest rates higher and growth weaker.”

The lira has already fallen by nearly 13 percent against the US dollar this year alone.

In a statement issued on Monday, Credit Suisse also said the takeover may have negative effects on the confidence in Turkish market and risk premiums of the properties in the country.

Founded by sympathizers of the faith-based Hizmet (service) movement, also known as the Gülen movement — inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen — in 1996, Bank Asya has long been in the news as a target of an intimidation campaign led by high-ranking state officials as well as pro-government media outlets and businessmen. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses supporters of the Hizmet movement of organizing “a coup attempt,” referencing investigations into corruption and bribery in 2013 that implicated several Cabinet ministers, Erdoğan’s sons and pro-government businessmen.

Greens leader: ‘Bank Asya situation shows Erdogan has no respect for democracy.’

The co-chairwoman of the Greens Group in the European Parliament Rebecca Harms, in a statement on Sunday, said the takeover of Bank Asya has shown that both the Turkish government and Erdoğan have lost their respect for democracy.

“The announced silencing of opposition media in Turkey is now already taking place. Not only by threatening and beating up journalists, but also by taking over Bank Asya, [the] government and president of Turkey show that they have lost respect for democratic rules. A negative trend in polls for the AKP [the Justice and Development Party or AK Party] seems to be the reason for a more aggressive strategy against opposition media. This is not compatible with fundamental rules for democratic electoral process,” Harms maintained.

International media agree

Tagesschau, the web portal of Germany’s state-run Constortium of Public Broadcasters in Germany (ARD) asked whether the Turkish government has deliberately broken the resistance of Bank Asya, and recalled that pro-government businesspeople have recently withdrawn large sums of money from the lender under pressure from Erdoğan.

Germany’s economic media outlets, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) and Handelsblatt, have echoed this reaction to the government’s recent attacks against the bank.

Leading French daily Le Monde, in the meantime, announced the seizure with a headline reading “The 10th largest bank of the country seized a week before elections,” in reference to the move’s apparent political motivation.

The Saudi Arabia-based Al-Watan, Lebasenese newspaper Al-Akhbar and Kuwait-based Roayah News also suggested the decision was a political move by Erdoğan to suppress any organization critical of his government.

Opposition blasts arbitrary move, decries political manipulation

The latest move in a prolonged smear campaign against the bank, the seizure has drawn ire both domestically and internationally. Though Ali Babacan, the deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, claimed there was no political motive in the seizure of Bank Asya, opposition deputies and market analysts claim the exact opposite.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli told Today’s Zaman on Sunday, “The decision, made just eight days before the election, has been perceived as a political, rather than an economic one.”

In a televised interview on Sunday night, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu shared his concerns over the security of property rights in Turkey and said: “They need to come up with a reasonable justification. Is the bank posting profit? Yes. Then why seize it? [The decision] should startle, not just the banking industry, but the whole business world. Why don’t foreign investors come to Turkey [anymore]? [Because] they have no security of life and property.”

Though it suffered great losses in 2014 on declining loans and deposits, due to mass withdrawals by pro-government firms and institutions, along with a cancelation of state agreements, such as tax collection and social security payment contracts, the lender still racked in a net profit of TL 13 million in the first quarter of 2015 and has a capital adequacy ratio of 18 percent, one of the highest in the sector.

Another CHP deputy, Mahmut Tanal, posted a tweet immediately after the seizure was made public, saying: “I just learned the TMSF seized Bank Asya. Instead of saving them, the TMSF has always sunk the banks that it took over.”

Emphasizing that the move was aimed at changing the agenda, he added: “This is a warning to the world of business and it violates [the law regarding] property rights. The decision is not judicial but completely political.”

CHP Deputy Chairman Faik Öztrak underscored possible judicial sanctions of the move and added: “The watchdog seized the management control of Bank Asya in February, citing missing [identification] documents [from shareholders]. Since then, the TMSF has governed the bank. It is a seizure of a bank that was already being administered by the TMSF itself. This sequence of actions is quite questionable.”

Selin Sayek Böke, the CHP’s deputy chair in charge of economic policy, presented a franker assessment of the decision: “To seize a lender that posts a profit with an adequate capital is just a political hijack. … It is being discussed that [shareholders of] the lender will receive huge compensation payments after a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling. Who will pay this money? The Turkish public.”

In an interview with a national daily on Monday, TMSF Chairman Şakir Ercan Gül said: “Net assets of the bank are positive. We will not touch the shares of the founding partners and shareholders in the stock exchange. The bank has been handed over to the TMSF just to resolve its problems.”

Gül’s remarks triggered speculation that the government — which has long been mulling over the sale of the lender to another firm — is now trying to increase the market price of Bank Asya.

Bank Asya’s shares were temporarily closed to trade on Monday. They had already been on the stock exchange’s watch list since last September, where companies are kept under surveillance.

*Thoughts and opinions expressed are solely those of the author. I do not own the copyright. The original can be accessed at the link above.

**My re-blogging/sharing of this Article does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the views or opinions expressed in the Article.

An Islamic Reformation is the world’s best chance for peace

Great Article found on Reuters

An Islamic Reformation is the world’s best chance for peace

By John Lloyd
April 2, 2015

The Ottoman era Suleymaniye mosque is covered by fog as the sun sets in Istanbul

If a young woman, before her marriage or after it, is found to have had sexual relations with another man not her betrothed, she is sentenced to be stoned to death. By contrast, a man who rapes or seduces a young girl usually must pay a fine to her father, and offer to marry her himself.

This punishment, ordained by God, is not confined to the ideologues of Islamic State. It is to be found in the holiest books of Jews and Christians: in a part of the Jewish Torah, known to Christians as Old Testament’s book of Deuteronomy.

The Jewish literary critic Adam Kirsch writes that “in Deuteronomy, we find the same kind of panic about female sexuality, the same need to control women’s feelings and behavior…(while) under Talmudic law, (a woman) is not a legally competent individual, but the responsibility of a man.”

The Talmud is a compendium of centuries of Jewish thought and commentary on the Torah.

Why, then, should those born within the cultures of the two older monotheistic faiths — Judaism, the oldest, and Christianity — recoil in horror from the obedience of some Muslims to these commands of God, since our cultures contain the same observances and our cultures’ holy figures approved them?

Because both Christianity and Judaism were profoundly changed by the Reformation and the European Enlightenment. The Enlightenment’s apostles included large figures from the Christian tradition — David Hume, Immanuel Kant and Rene Descartes; and from the Jewish, in Baruch Spinoza and Moses Mendelsohn. They, and a legion of others, thought “freedom and toleration were … essential to the pursuit of enquiry, both religious and secular.” Their belief became, especially in France, a cause, a militant proclamation of freedom of thought and of publication, a definition of the rights of man.

“Man” to a degree meant also “woman” — but far from completely. The idea of male supremacy continues worldwide. Only under the influence of liberal and socialist reformers, emancipatory movements and feminism did (some) cultures recognize real, substantial equality of the sexes — rarely completely.

Islam did not join the renaissance, the rebirth, of Judaic and Christian cultures that began at the end of the 1500s and then evolved over centuries. Islam has within it millions of devotees who are liberal in their thoughts and actions, and who believe that nations should be secular, tolerating all religions and those with none. But the religion and the commentators on it do not lend them support: the religion still, in theory and in much of its practice, aspires to be the spine to a nation’s politics, the guide for its judiciary.

Last month, two powerful voices — one Jewish, one a Muslim breakaway — have been raised to give voice to the same belief: that until Islam undergoes its own rebirth, in which its divine commands are generally allowed to give way to secular, enlightenment practices, the majority of  Muslim moderates will be held hostage by the minority of Muslim extremists.

Benny Morris is professor of history at the University of the Negev: he is the most prominent member of the revisionist historians of the 1980s who broke with Zionist orthodoxy and who wrote a searing, detailed book about the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. An ardent leftist, he became a much more conservative figure, seeing in the failure of the negotiations in the early 2000s between Israel and the Palestinian leadership proof that the Palestinians would never agree to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

At a talk in London, Morris poured scorn on those Western leaders – As President Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron — who argued the attacks on the magazine Charlie Hebdo in January had “nothing to do with the true religion of Islam.”

Islamist violence, Morris said, is perpetrated in the name of Islam. Denying it doesn’t promote good community relations. It obscures a real problem that must be faced.

Morris’ other view — that all Muslims, militant or moderate, “hated” the West — seems to me to be wrong. I asked him if he thought the Palestinian Israelis were biding their time before turning on their Jewish fellow citizens? He replied that the Israeli government’s demonizing of them was wrong. Instead, the government must do all in its powers to bring Israeli Arabs into full citizenship.

Yet if they are suffused with hatred, how would that help?

The “renegade” Muslim I spoke of earlier is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Her journey began with escape a forced marriage in Somalia, through the Netherlands and to the United States, where she now lives. She has also traveled from being a devout Muslim to a challenger of Islam’s basic precepts. She has been the subject of powerful memoirs, such as The Caged Virgin andNomad and has been forced to live behind armed protection. Last month, she wrote that “the theological warrant for intolerance and violence is embedded in (Muslims’) own religious texts. It simply will not do for Moslems to claim that their religion has been ‘hijacked’ by extremists. The killers of Islamic state and Nigeria’s Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct.”

Judaism and Christianity, she writes “gradually consigned the violent passages of their own sacred texts to the past” so that extremism in both is confined to the fringes. “Regrettably in Islam it is the other way around: it is those seeking religious reform who are the fringe element.”

Hirsi Ali is a woman of notable bravery; one who cares deeply about the religion she felt forced to leave. She ardently wishes to engage those whom she calls “Mecca Muslims” — devout and peaceful men and women, “the majority from Casablanca to Jakarta” in “a dialogue about the meaning and practice of their faith.” The reformation of Islam, she writes, would benefit not only the faithful: Westerners, too, “have an enormous stake in how the struggle over Islam plays out.”

An Islamic reformation would be painful, surely internally violent — as reformation’s various phases were in Christianity. It would mean the sharp diminution of the power of the Imams; frontal challenges to the moral framework of millions, and to the power of religiously based dynasties, like the House of Saud. But if reform, and opening a space for free, unafraid debate, is to move from the fringes to the center and allow the majority to encompass both secular citizenship and devout practice, this hard transition is necessary — especially for Muslims themselves, the first and most numerous victims of extremism.

*Thoughts and opinions expressed are solely those of the author. I do not own the copyright. The original can be accessed at the link above.

**My re-blogging/sharing of this Article does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the views or opinions expressed in the Article.

Troubled Turkish lira continues to tumble, hits 2.60

The Turkish Lira continued to drop to record lows on Thursday, falling to 2.60 against the ever-strengthening US dollar amid a period of intense pressure applied by the government upon the central bank.

Troubled Turkish Lira Continues To Tumble, Hits 2.60

Reporting by Today’s Zaman, one of the few non-Government Turkish newspapers. For a background story about what happened at Today’s Zaman a few months ago, see here: What the Zaman Raid Means for Turkey’s Media

*Due to certain media restrictions and other freedom of expression issues in Turkey I wish to add: the thoughts and opinions expressed in these Articles are solely those of the original authors/publishers.  My re-blogging/sharing of these Articles does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the views or opinions contained in the Articles. You should make up your own mind. Further, I do not own the copyright and have therefore only posted the links above.

Is loneliness the AKP’s or Turkey’s fate? by Dr. Selim Savas Genc (Fatih University), Today’s Zaman

This Article “Is Loneliness the AKP’s Or Turkey’s Fate?” by Dr. Selim Savas Genc (Fatih University), published in Today’s Zaman, February 26, 2015 can be found at the following link:

It is a well written article and pretty much sums up the atmosphere in Turkey.

*Due to certain media restrictions and other freedom of expression issues in Turkey I wish to add: the thoughts and opinions expressed in this Article are solely those of the author: Dr. Selim Savas Gench and Today’s Zaman. My re-blogging/sharing of this Article from Today’s Zaman here does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the views or opinions contained in the Article. You should make up your own mind about the thoughts and opinions expressed in this Article.

**The Article and images are copyright by Today’s Zaman. I do not own the copyright and its sharing/posting here is permissible fair use.

Men support women’s rights in Turkey… by wearing miniskirts

Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT) February 23, 2015

This is a very recent article (Feb. 23, 2015) written by Monica Sarkar. The original can be found here:

Turkish men wearing skirts demonstrate in Istanbul to support women's rights in memory of 20-year-old murdered woman Ozgecan Aslan on February 21, 2015.

Woman in Turkey: I urgently need 7,000 Turkish Liras by BELGİN AKALTAN

Woman cleaning house, orhun hakan yalincak

I urgently need 7,000 Turkish Liras

This was an article by Belgin Akaltan and it appeared in a Turkish newspaper called Hurriyet. Over the past several years divorce has become increasingly difficult for woman in Turkey. In some parts of Turkey (not all), viewing woman as chattels is considered the norm. Despite all the purported progress towards EU membership and equality (including positive discrimination legislation), the cultural norms have not changed much and don’t seem to be getting better. The original Article can be found at this link and is re-blogged/shared below:

*Due to certain media restrictions and other freedom of expression issues in Turkey I wish to add: the thoughts and opinions expressed in this Article are solely those of the author (Belgin Akaltan). My re-blogging/sharing of this Article by Belgin Akaltan (and published in Hurriyet) does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the views or opinions contained in the Article/Letter. You should make up your own mind. Further, I do not own the copyright and have therefore only posted the link above.

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