The death toll following the 6.8-magnitude quake of Jan. 24 has risen to 39, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said Jan. 27. Rescue operations are ongoing for survivors. Some 2,945 buildings in Elazığ and neighboring Malatya are damaged: 12 to be demolished immediate and 1,287 beyond repair.
Turkey was shaken with multiple earthquakes on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, with the western province of Manisa witnessing over 160 aftershocks following a 5.4-magnitude earthquake. A short while later, the capital Ankara was also hit by a 4.5-magnitude earthquake. No casualties were reported.
Tensions between Turkey and Greece have intensified in recent days over decades-long disputes in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Ankara has called on Athens to demilitarize 16 Greek islands near its coast, whereas Athens threatened to block Libya peace efforts unless Turkey-Libya accord was scrapped. Meanwhile, Greek Cyprus accused Turkey of being "a pirate state" over its drilling actions in the Mediterranean Sea.
Turkey will screen passengers on all flights from China with thermal cameras upon arrival, the Health Ministry said on Jan. 23. The precautionary move comes amid the outbreak of a new deadly new virus in China. Meanwhile, Turkey's embassy in Beijing has warned citizens against travelling to the country.
Currently, 59 German citizens are in Turkish prisons, and another 74 German citizens are barred from leaving Turkey pending investigation, German Foreign Ministry has announced. German Chancellor Merkel is expected to discuss this issue during her meeting with Turkish President Erdoğan in Istanbul on Jan. 24.
Turkey remains 110th in the Economist's latest global democracy index. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) categorized Turkey as the only “hybrid regime” in western Europe -- the second lowest after “authoritarian regime.”
Foreign powers agreed at a summit in Berlin on Jan. 19 to shore up a shaky truce in Libya. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that the Berlin summit, attended by the main backers of the rival Libyan factions, had agreed that a tentative truce in Tripoli over the past week should be turned into a permanent ceasefire to allow a political process to take place.
Duvar reporters write from the earthquake zone: The people of Elazığ spent the second night following the quake on the pavements of Gazi Street, the city’s main boulevard. Fires lit up every 10 meters were hardly enough to help them brace the -10 Celsius temperatures.
Melek Çetinkaya has been struggling to prove the innocence of her son, who was a cadet sentenced to life in prison on charges related to the coup attempt of July 15, 2016. "This is a political ruling and not a legal one. In order for this crime to take place, the students should've left the barracks on purpose and staged an act. They had no idea what they were involved in," Çetinkaya told Duvar English.
Turkish President Erdoğan has criticized Libya's Haftar for not signing a ceasefire deal during a peace summit in Berlin last week. Speaking in Istanbul after talks with German Chancellor Merkel, Erdoğan said: “The support putschist Haftar was given has spoiled him."
Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate has cancelled press cards of many journalists working for opposition newspapers Birgün, Evrensel and Cumhuriyet. A number of journalism organizations slammed the cancellations, urging the authorities to backtrack on their "unlawful" decision.
The management of a jail in the eastern Turkish province of Elazığ is pressuring political prisoners to wear an ID card reading “convicted of terrorism.” HDP MP Gergerlioğlu submitted a parliamentary question regarding the issue, asking Justice Minister Gül on what kind of a legal regulation the jail “justifies” its implementation.
Selahattin Demirtaş has said that a left 'democracy block' can only be achieved if smaller fractions refrain from prioritizing their agenda, adding that the issue distracts politicians from addressing the real needs of the people. It might be possible for an alliance to form between the HDP and the new parties founded by Davutoğlu and Babacan if they participate in the democratization process, he said.
Turkish state railways (TCDD) has increased monthly train membership card prices by up to 400 percent, causing outcry on social media. According to Turkey's United Transportation Union (BTS), the government plans to privatize the state railways, which is why they went for these price hikes. "They started to implement price hikes so that [TCDD] won't be at a loss when they transfer it over to the private sector," said an official from the union.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 23 that Russia's S-400 missile defense system was compatible with NATO, amid an ongoing rift between the alliance and Ankara on the issue. "We believe the S-400 and F-35 are compatible. It does not pose any threats to the NATO system or to NATO allies," he said, as he suggested the formation of a working group to study the issue.
Despite the fact that armored police vehicles can be found every 100 meters in Istanbul's Gazi neighborhood, youth street gangs run wild in the area. Residents are of the opinion that the gangs are "being protected" by the authorities.
A message of peace and unity was the main idea in a letter to the third Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) conference from Selahattin Demirtaş and Abdullah Zeydan, former co-chair and former deputy of the pro-Kurdish HDP. "We must demonstrate with small and meaningful gestures the respect we have for Turkish values and our sincerity about living together," said the letter from Edirne Prison.
A couple -- one of whom is a former public servant who was dismissed from his job by a government decree -- has been trying for months to sell their house due to financial difficulties. As the sacked employee is classified "in the risk group" in the deed directorate system, the sale cannot be actualized. HDP MP Gergerlioğlu submitted a parliamentary question regarding this issue, asking how authorities decide if someone is in "the risk group" or not.
German Chancellor Merkel will hold a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Erdoğan in Istanbul on Jan. 24. Amnesty International wants Merkel to tell Erdoğan that jailed rights activist Osman Kavala needs to be immediately released and terrorism charges against Amnesty International's Turkey chair Taner Kılıç should be dropped.
Garo Paylan, an MP from the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) has filed a parliamentary question about the historic Armenian building Sanasaryan Han. "Will Sanasaryan Han's ownership be turned over to the Armenian people like it was intended?" he asked.
U.S. President Donald Trump confused the Kurds of Syria and Iraq in a meeting with Nechirvan Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, on Jan. 22. “As you know, we left Syria from the standpoint of the border. And that’s worked out great with Turkey. They have the so-called safe zone and I appreciate everything you’ve done to keep it as safe as possible," Trump told Barzani.
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that Turkey's Central Bank is as independent as the U.S. Federal Reserve in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. He met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin amid an ongoing rift between Ankara and Washington over U.S. probe of Turkish state-run bank Halkbank on charges of aiding a years-long scheme to help Iran evade U.S. economic sanctions.
Turkey's center-right parties are reportedly preparing to form an alliance to challenge the People's Alliance consisting of the ruling AKP and its nationalist ally MHP in the next elections. Contrary to the Nation Alliance of the last elections, the main opposition CHP won't be included in the alliance formed by these nationalist-conservative parties, Birgün reported on Jan. 23.
Lawyers of PKK leader Öcalan and three other inmates on İmralı Island have applied to Turkey's Constitutional Court following the authorities' move to extend a three-month visitation ban for family members for the fifth time in the last 15 months.
Agriculture and Forest Labor Union head Şükrü Durmuş has said that 90 percent of the tree saplings planted last year as part of an event died. "We and forestry scientists alike had warned that the conditions for this endeavor were not appropriate. In a season where there is not enough rain, we said that it was wrong to launch this campaign solely for the purpose of entering the Guinness Book of World Records," he said.
Drawings distributed by the Education Ministry to school counselors have sparked a debate over their negative depiction of women with no headscarves. Aimed at helping counselors support children post-trauma, the pamphlets used a doctor with a headscarf as the protagonist in a story about sexual harassment, while a woman without a headscarf was the unwelcome neighbor approaching a child.
Islamist writer Abdurrahman Dilipak has said that marijuana is not harmful and can be used a preventative measure to steer people away from more harmful drugs, in a column for the daily Akit newspaper on Jan. 23. "The criminal risk potential of marijuana is very low, as is the biological risk. You know, they say 'the hair of the dog that bits you,' could marijuana be a solution to save [people] from drugs?" he wrote.
Two improvised explosive devices went off in the early hours of Jan. 23 in the central Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, the Governor's Office said. The devices were placed at the entrance of two apartment buildings, shattering the windows of an apartment nearby.
A total of 131 suspects were handed prison terms on Jan. 22 in the case into the illegal wiretapping by Gülenists. Those sentenced include police chiefs that carried out Dec. 17-25, 2013 graft probes, which targeted former ministers and are deemed as attempts to overthrow the government by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
AKP group deputy chair Mehmet Muş has submitted a draft bill to the parliament seeking to grant watchmen the authority to ask identification from people and detain them. The AKP's move came in the wake of two court rulings which said that the watchmen do not have the “authority to ask for identification as per their job definition.”
Some 150 types of medicine are currently unavailable in pharmacies across Turkey as medical firms and depots have suspended the release of products amid upcoming price hikes due on Feb. 15, said a deputy of the main opposition CHP. The Turkish Pharmacists' Association confirmed that pharmacies are running out of medicine, saying the Euro exchange rate set for the pricing of medicines is set to increase by 10-11 percent.
In a filing in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said Halkbank should be fined an initial $1 million a day for contempt of court and which could double each week to counter the bank's "obstinacy" in refusing to defend itself in court. The proposed fine could total $7 million after the first week of non-compliance and $21 million after two weeks, and nearly $1.8 billion by the end of eight weeks.
Bilal Erdoğan, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son, has criticized Turkey's intellectuals for being "outdated." “Unfortunately our 20th century intellectuals weren't able to follow the world and they missed out. How did they miss out? When the Young Turks went to Europe for education, to France in particular, they were influenced by the positivist trends," Bilal Erdoğan said.
Turkey's Supreme Election Board (YSK) Sadi Güven has said that the practice of using envelopes when casting votes should be removed. "The practice of using envelopes was removed in many countries. The envelopes need to be removed after making ballot boxes opaque instead of transparent with a change in legal regulations," he said.
Inmates are being restricted access to books, the daily Evrensel newspaper reported. Prisoners' books are routinely confiscated and have been punished for writing poetry in their notebooks. “Our right to obtain information is being violated. The books we read are separated into a different section and we can only exchange them with others in every 15 days by writing a petition," a prisoner said.
Good Party leader Meral Akşener said that she can't predict whether the country will have early elections because the decision is up to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. "We could be casting ballots with one executive order," Akşener said, adding that she wasn't aware of Good Party member Lütfü Türkkan's tweet from Jan. 19 asking "How's Sunday June 28 for elections?"
Turkey's former Prime Minister Davutoğlu has accused economy administration of manipulating inflation figures. "Competent people need to be in charge of this administration. Think about a doctor who tells his patient that he is fine by changing his test results. The patient says 'I'm dying,' but the doctor says, 'Look at the figures, your test results are fine.' The economy administration in Turkey is doing exactly this," he said.
Prof. Naci Görür, a member of Turkey's The Science Academy, said the southern delta of Kanal Istanbul will be "violently impacted" by the long-awaited Istanbul earthquake. Görür said that the land surrounding the southern mouth of the canal, between the two Çekmece Lakes, contained many fault lines, and the continent shelf was highly fragmented, a huge risk in a possible earthquake.
The Turkish drama producer Ay Yapım has refuted the claims that their new TV series 'Babil' – which centers around a sacked university professor – was being investigated for allegedly “making propaganda” on behalf of the Gülen movement. Following its first episode on Jan. 17, the new series became a hot topic on social media, with several users suggesting that the hardships that the main character faces are parallel to those experienced by Turkey's sacked civil servants.
Turkey's Forensic Medicine Department, connected to the Justice Ministry, has been infiltrated by members of the Gülen organization, an employee of the department has claimed. Dr. Nevzat Alkan, who has worked in the department since 1993, claims that Gülenists, the main suspect behind the 2016 coup attempt, infiltrated the department because their reports are crucial to lawsuit proceedings.
In Turkey, the minimum age required to get sex reassignment surgery is 18. In order for one to change one's gender section on an identity card, the procedure must be conducted at a state hospital. Sex reassignment surgery is available in Turkey's major cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Antalya. Those operations are not only risky but costly and those trans people that suffer complications following a procedure, no legal procedure can be launched against the doctor in question.
Turkish mezzo-soprano Lori Şen has been cast as Princess Diana at an American musical which tells the story of the beloved Princess of Wales. To prepare for her role, Şen is mastering Princess Diana's gestures, facial expressions and her style of talking.
The Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, located in Armenia 16 kilometers from the eastern Turkish province of Iğdır, has become the subject of a parliamentary inquiry. In response to a question from main opposition CHP's deputy Deniz Yavuzyılmaz, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the plant, which is functioning with outdated technology, presents a great risk to the region but did not specify what, if any, precautions were being taken on Turkey's part.
Journalist Sevim Kahraman and area resident Özkan Ulucan of the northeastern, mountainous province of Dersim have filmed a short documentary about the area's mountain goats, which are considered holy by locals, the vast majority of whom adhere to the Alevi faith.