[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya.]
The Coronavirus Outbreak
Most vulnerable still exposed to virus on Istanbul's deserted streets. “Some of Istanbul's most vulnerable people, including Syrian child refugees, are still out on the streets day and night, braving the pandemic to earn a living,” reports Paul Benjamin Osterlund.
Turkey struggles to keep the working class at home. “The current challenge is to keep the working class at home. A careful balance needs to be found between containing the spread of virus while minimizing the detrimental effects on the economy,” argues Barçın Yinanç.
Health and Politics
The Coronavirus Meets Authoritarianism in Turkey. Isaac Chotiner spoke by phone with Emrah Altındiş, a professor of biology at Boston College who has been studying the epidemic in Turkey.
Yet another opportunity to bash the opposition. “While many lives are at stake, the war against the opposition carries on. The AKP-MHP alliance seems to interpret the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity for its own PR: People will get help only if they support their cause,” writes Mehveş Evin.
“Listen to the rest of the world, clear out the prisons as soon as possible!” Elected mayor of Diyarbakır, Adnan Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, writes from jail on the proposed partial pardon under discussion in Turkey as a measure to avoid the spread of coronavirus in prisons. “It is in no way acceptable for the regime to choose those it sees fit to release, while abandoning to death in prison journalists, students, lawyers, and intellectuals.”
Coronavirus could make terror charges a death sentence for Turkish prisoners. “Unless a miracle happens, the price for this backslide in democracy and the rule of law will be paid by the most innocent and vulnerable people in Turkish prisons,” writes Yavuz Aydın, commenting on an amnesty bill that will release ninety thousand prisoners, but not those accused of terrorism.
A document of shame rather than a bill. “The child sexual abusers, sexual offenders and other offenders of violence against women are within the scope of the amnesty which is in front of the Turkish Parliament. I don’t know if one can imagine a bigger shame,” writes Berrin Sönmez.
Coronavirus: A Global Challenge
[...] The West’s world order is finished. Prepare for a brand-new world. “The world order that has been maintained for centuries under the control of the West, their values, lifestyle, power understanding, world map, and the way they perceive life has collapsed. This is what was expected. The epidemic simply expedited it and perhaps finalized it,” argues İbrahim Karagül.
Why help? Nations’ motivation in virus aid. “Beijing turned to activism as a preemptive public diplomacy tool. Unlike China, Turkey’s relief efforts fit into a much broader vision of international cooperation. It is part and parcel of a broader quest for international cooperation at a time when everyone is concerned about the international system’s direction in the future,” argues Burhanettin Duran.
Turkey in the World, Turkey and the World
A tiny, invisible thing has turned the world upside down. “COVID-19 has drastically changed the routines of our lives. I barely get the opportunity to speak or write about Syria, the Mediterranean or Libya, these days. [...] None of us here talk about our problems with the U.S. or our relations with Russia,” argues Merve Şebnem Oruç.
Intel: What’s next for Russia-Turkey cooperation after Erdogan, Putin call? “Russia doesn’t seem to be interested in exacerbating the situation with Turkey. Apart from being focused on its own challenges vis-a-vis the coronavirus, Putin is very much concerned with the drop in oil prices,” writes Maxim A. Suchkov, commenting on a recent phone conversation between Russia’s president and his Turkish counterpart.
Turkey pursues Libya campaign despite growing financial woes. “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pressing ahead with his military venture in Libya even as the coronavirus pandemic is putting further strain on Ankara’s cash-strapped coffers,” writes Fehim Taştekin.
The Turkish Sonderweg: The New Turkey’s role in the global order. Aslı Aydıntaşbaş looks into Turkey’s role on the global stage. “Turkey is pursuing its Sonderweg (special path). When Turkey’s leaders look around, they see an increasingly Hobbesian world full of hostile powers. The prevailing sentiment is that Turkey will work with the West or work around it. But how far can Turkey go in that direction?”
A baby face is not a ticket to win. “Nobody in their right mind can think that being an opposition party in an autocratic environment is easy. However, one cannot learn how to swim without jumping in the water. Ali Babacan’s party DEVA seems to be enjoying the dry land at a time when citizens are expecting brave and wise leadership,” argues Nevşin Mengü.
Rights and Protest
Death Fasting Grup Yorum Member Helin Bölek Loses Her Life. “Grup Yorum music band member Helin Bölek has lost her life on the 288th day of her death fast,” Bianet reported on Friday.
The Coronavirus Outbreak
Bilim Şehitleri. In his column, Uğur Dündar writes about Dr Cemil Taşçıoğlu, a professor of internal medicine at Istanbul University. Taşçıoğlu died on Wednesday after contracting the coronavirus from a patient.
Sağlık çalışanları, unutulmaktan korkuyor. “Health workers are not asking for ‘privileges’,” but to receive from the state the same support that has been granted to other workers in the service industry, writes Nuh Albayrak.
Çeşitli ülkelerin yaşadıklarına bakarken Türkiye’nin kıymetini bir kez daha anlıyoruz “When looking at how undecided and desperate are the governments of other countries worldwide, one understands once again how different Turkey is,” argues Mehmet Barlas.
“Türkiye evde kalsın” ama işçiler ölsün mü? “How will Turkey ‘stay home’ when millions of workers go to work?” writes Aziz Çelik, arguing that many of the measures taken against the spread of the coronavirus do not take differences between social classes into consideration.
Health and Politics
Yardım kampanyası “Back in the days the Istanbul municipality would provide services. Now it turned into a bakkal. The great Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has turned into Erdal’s Bakkal,” writes Hasan Basri Yalçın. He argues that luckily the municipal campaign to provide aid to people in need in time of coronavirus has been stopped by the government and that such initiatives have to be centralized.
‘Devlet içinde devlet.’ Taha Akyol argues that if there is no law allowing municipalities to launch a fund drive in time of emergency, there is also no law that allows President Erdoğan to do so. “If the aim of the government was to act in solidarity, governors would have allowed the municipalities” to collect funds.
Koronayı sansürle önlemeye çalışmak yarayı derinleştirir. “Instead of transparency, censorship and concealing facts will pave the way for chaos, anxiety, and a disaster,” writes Erk Acarer, arguing that clarity is not guiding Turkey’s response to the coronavirus.
Coronavirus: A Global Challenge
Küreselleşme ve korona: coğrafyanın sonu mu? Closing borders in such an interdependent world is just a palliative, writes Behlül Özkan, arguing that “there is no wall tall enough to protect us from climate change, epidemies, droughts, and the outcomes of global income inequality.”
Kovid-19 kâbusunda iki ayrı Amerika! With the EU institutions and NATO not doing enough against the coronavirus, and “‘enemy’ countries such as Russia, China, and Cuba providing help," the world is witnessing “surprising developments on the international arena,” writes Tunca Bengin.
Koronavirüs salgını güvenlik problemine dönüşür mü? Veysel Kurt argues that NATO needs to find “a new strategic approach and plan of action,” to be better positioned against China and Russia and avoid that the coronavirus becomes a security issue.
The Economy and the Stimulus Package
Bırak koronayı öde faturayı!. “While the citizens of other countries put money in their pockets, we give money to the state to help us. The state will then help us with the same money that we provided,” writes Murat Muratoğlu, also arguing that Turkey cannot declare a curfew because the state has no money to look after its citizens.
Bir vatandaş olarak TÜSİAD’dan beklentim. “Since they think that we are living in a war-like situation, Simone Kaslowski and the Turkish industrialists and entrepreneurs he represents should take one for the team,” writes Melih Altınok. Kaslowski, the chair of the Turkish Industry and Business Association, has recently criticized Erdoğan’s stimulus package as not sufficient.
Rights and Protest
Ölen sağlık çalışanları ŞEHİT ilan edilmeli. Ahmet Akan argues that, while people were quick to condemn pilgrims returning from the Humra, “not a single leftist” criticized the dozens who assembled for the funerals of Helin Bolek, who died on the 288th day of a hunger strike.
İstanbul’a yapılacak iki hastanenin özellikleri. Abdulkadir Selvi recently spoke with sources at Turkey’s General Assembly. According to the columnist, a legal amendment allowing journalists and those accused of thought crimes to do community service instead of serving time is on the political agenda.