Showing posts with label Turkey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turkey. Show all posts

March 20, 2020

In Turkey Cologne Sales Are Going Over The Roof and The 1st Deaths Reported

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered shops and battered financial markets around the world. In Turkey, where COVID-19 has so far killed two people and infected nearly 200, schools, universities and many businesses are closed, and large gatherings such as Friday prayers at mosques have been suspended.
Even so, one sector is experiencing a boom. Sales of Turkish-made cologne are skyrocketing. And it's not because people are worried about how they smell.
At the tiny Atelier Rebul in Istanbul's Karakoy neighborhood, owner Goksel Kaygin, 44, deals with a steady stream of customers. They're squeezing into the narrow shop lined with a dizzying array of fragrances, ranging from lemon (sold out) and lime to green tea, spice and fig blossom, ranging from about $3 to $8 a bottle.
Rebul cologne, like some other Turkish brands, has long been made with 80% alcohol, and it's because of its disinfectant properties that sales are booming now. 
Kaygin says he's happy for the uptick in business, but not for the reason behind it. Reported coronavirus infections are climbing daily, with no sign they'll peak anytime soon despite optimistic predictions from some officials. Fears of the virus don't seem to be deterring his customers from crowding into his shop's small space. 
"It's really busy, as you see, because of the virus," he says. "See those boxes coming, new supplies?" he asks, pointing to a stack of cartons just delivered outside. "But people are taking bottles even before we get them on the shelves."
An Ottoman symbol of hospitality
Kaygin dates the Turkish love of cologne to the later Ottoman period — the Rebul company has been in business since 1895, about three decades before the empire's end. Traditionally, a splash of cologne was offered to house guests and restaurant patrons to rub on their hands. In recent years, however, sales fell off. The younger generation just wasn't interested, he says.
"But now they understand that it's also a disinfectant," he says, "and they're coming in to buy, too."
In Ottoman times, Kaygin adds, cologne was a popular holiday gift, especially at the Eid holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. That tradition has continued.
"I used to buy this only for Eid," one of his customers says, "but now I'm back, yes, because it's also a disinfectant."
Kaygin stocks another brand as well, but because of its lower alcohol content, he says it's not selling nearly as well.
A boom beyond Turkey
Last week, the Turkish government halted the requirement to include ethanol in gasoline, boosting the capacity to produce colognes and disinfectants. Turkish media have suggested that traditional use of cologne on the hands before going out may have helped keep the number of infections in the country relatively low so far.
That remains pure speculation. Turkey, like everywhere else, officially urges hand washing to help protect against the coronavirus. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's traditional way of greeting visitors and guests — avoiding a handshake by placing his hand on his chest and nodding — is also recommended by the media.
But there's no question cologne sales shot up as the virus began to spread. Turkey's state-run Anadolu News Agency reports a fivefold increase in demand.
Anadolu also reports Turkish cologne is also enjoying a spike in sales in Germany, where the threat risk from the coronavirus was recently raised from "moderate" to "high." Germany is home to some 3 million people of Turkish descent.
A cosmetics producer near Frankfurt told Anadolu he was having trouble meeting the soaring demand. He said his company had cut production on several other products to put all available resources into making cologne, working double shifts to turn out 12,000 bottles per day.
Back in Istanbul, shop owner Kaygin says one reason people quickly moved to stock up on cologne is because the tradition never completely died out. Cologne is still offered in a number of settings — to diners at Turkish restaurants, to patients and visitors at hospitals, and at the end of a visit to someone else's home.
"So they always knew about it," he says, "but now they really remember it."

October 21, 2019

War is Without Purpose And As The Kurds Prepare to Fight or dig themselves in the Ground Families Separate

Crossing the bridge over the Tigris river into Syria from Iraqi Kurdistan.
Daniel Estrin/NPR


Mohammed Sheikho and his family fled heavy fighting in their town of Tel Abyad, Syria, and had been on the run for three days trying to reach safety in Iraq when NPR encountered them in northeastern Syria on Sunday.

Our small NPR reporting team arrived in Syria just in time to witness a historic moment in the long-running civil war. But we didn't think we would have to rush out so quickly.

It was on Sunday. Only a week before, President Trump had ordered some U.S. troops to exit parts of northeast Syria, making way for Turkey to launch an offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces controlling the area. The day we arrived, the Kurdish forces invited the Syrian government to retake the territory and fend off the Turkish invasion.

As the Syrian government military advanced, we found ourselves among other journalists and aid workers scrambling to escape, fearing arrest by the regime — and leaving behind the Syrians we had met who had no easy way out. 

Mohammed Sheikho and his family fled heavy fighting in their town of Tel Abyad, Syria, and had been 
on the run for three days trying to reach safety in Iraq, when NPR encountered them in northeastern 
Syria on Sunday.
Daniel Estrin/NPR

Entering Syria took hours. At the border crossing in Faysh Khabur, northwestern Iraq, we processed paperwork with Iraqi Kurdish officials and sipped Qazwan coffee, a Kurdish hot drink with notes of pistachio, with the border manager we liked to call the Big Responsible, as he was nicknamed in Arabic. Then we shuttled across a rickety bridge over the Tigris River into northeastern Syria.

We soon saw a local journalist in tears. Her Kurdish fighter friend had just been killed in battle.

Our driver Hamoudi picked us up in a large white van with a license plate with Kurdish, Assyrian and Arabic written in red, a mark of the diversity of this corner of Syria. (He doesn't want his full name used to avoid trouble if the Syrian regime takes over his area and discovers that he worked with journalists.) His stuffed gorilla named Zizo rode on the dashboard. Zizo has accompanied Hamoudi for five years, witnessing the rise and fall of ISIS in this part of Syria, and he would join us in this latest chapter of the war in Syria.

We drove past oil rigs and cows grazing in yellowed fields. Pickup trucks sat roadside, packed with stacks of colorful mattresses, bags of eggplants and tomatoes, and young women who look much older than their age. We pulled over.                                  

A 70-year-old man with a weathered face, Mohammed Sheikho, was with his siblings and their families. They had fled heavy fighting in their town of Tel Abyad, Syria, and had been on the run for three days, sleeping in the desert, trying to reach safety in Iraq. They had not been able to cross the border for lack of the right documents.

He was thinking of those he left behind. "My sons are stuck in Kobani," a Syrian city under Turkish bombardment with roads cut off, "they are surrounded," Sheikho said and wiped away his tears with the scarf on his head. He then drove off to find a place to sleep for the night.

It is horrible to see a grandfather cry. It wouldn't be the last time we witnessed that on our trip.

The Syrian town of Derik is about a half-hour drive from the Iraqi border and a few hours' drives away from where Turkish-backed troops are pummeling Syrian Kurdish forces, as U.S. troops quickly withdraw.

We reached the Syrian town of Derik, about a half-hour drive from the Iraqi border and a few hours from areas where Turkish-backed troops were pummeling Syrian Kurdish forces, as U.S. troops quickly withdraw. Derik is considered an upper-middle-class town. The town is known for its homegrown musicians, according to Sangar Khaleel, a Kurdish journalist who was our guide. They are throaty singers with the "voice of the mountains," he said. No one was singing that night.

Before sunset, we took a drive around town. Wedding halls and some restaurants were closed as battles raged nearby. Some Kurdish officers were building scaffolding in the road. A man in fatigues said they were making a canopy to keep troop movements hidden from Turkish drones, anticipating the fight coming to their town. We wondered how this contraption would protect them from a forceful opponent. 

We spotted a church and wound up crashing a baptism. Baby Hanna, just a few months old, cried while women trilled in celebration. Clergymen in gowns with golden embroidery dunked him in a marble basin of holy water. They chanted prayers in ancient Aramaic. A relative offered us tiny blue candies decorated with baby figurines. It was Sunday, and the priest said he urged his worried congregation to lean on their faith for comfort. Turkish shelling had hit nearby villages the night before.

All this chaos began after the White House's Oct. 6 announcement that NATO-member Turkey was ready to launch an offensive into northern Syria and some U.S. military personnel would stand aside. The U.S. troops were stationed there in support of Syrian Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIS and the U.S. presence as a buffer against Turkey. The Turkish government considers the Kurdish forces as part of an insurgency threatening its national security.

The day we entered the country, as Turkey's offensive intensified, President Trump said the U.S. would be pulling all its troops out of northeast Syria.

Trump came to protect us. But the day someone came to hit us, he pulled out.
Mikhael Yousef Issa, a Christian in Syria

"Trump came to protect us. But the day someone came to hit us, he pulled out," said the baby's grandfather, Mikhael Yousef Issa. "It's a betrayal for the whole area, not just for Christians. What affects you, affects me. The bullets are falling upon us all."

The 65-year-old with a white mustache gave us cake and Coca Cola and invited us to stay at his house, even "for one year." This hospitality is not unusual. Thousands of Syrians who have fled the fighting are sleeping at relatives' homes away from the front lines.

We stopped at a tobacco shop. The owner had a faded tattoo of a girl's face and the word "love" in English on his forearm. He was chain-smoking with his friends and shouting at the television. The news showed stretchers and bloodied Syrian Kurds in a town about three hours away.

"We're watching in order to know when to escape," he said. Then he asked us: You're journalists, you tell me, when should we leave?

We wondered where he could even go. The Iraqi border is closed to most refugees, and his town is one of the quietest in the area.

Journalists huddled around a TV at our hotel when the news broke. Alliances on the ground suddenly shifted. The Kurdish forces invited the Syrian regime to recapture the area. The Syrian military announced it would retake the entire length of the country's border with Turkey, which we could all see from our hotel windows.

Grandfather Issam kisses his grandson Rayan goodbye before the 4-year-old left to enter Iraq. Issam did not have papers to cross. "Separation has killed the people. It's destroyed a generation. War is without a purpose," Issam said, crying. 

They said they preferred President Assad, though his regime has limited the Kurds' rights, to their bigger rivals, Turkey and its Syrian Arab mercenaries, whom Kurds said they fear will kill or expel them. But a 19-year-old barber said he was afraid of being drafted into the regime's army and wondered if he will have to flee.

Regime forces were quickly advancing toward towns in the area, and there were rumors they would be taking over the border crossing with Iraq. We had entered Syria with permission from Kurdish authorities, not the Syrian regime. None of us wanted to end up in a Damascus prison. At 12:41 p.m., a colleague told us he heard the regime would take charge of the border at 3 p.m.

Hamoudi rushed us to the border, only slowing for a gaggle of geese crossing the road. Empty vans were driving in the opposite direction after delivering international aid workers to the border. For days, aid workers had been burning their documents in steel bins, anticipating the return of regime forces and destroying evidence of who had been in Syria.

We shared the ride to the border crossing with a Swedish radio correspondent, Cecilia Uddén, who has covered the region for years. She reminisced about the Syrians she has interviewed over the years, such as a female judge presiding over ISIS trials. "It's awful to be leaving people behind," she said.

At the border, a shuttle bus came to take us back over the rickety bridge to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. As we were boarding, a 4-year-old boy on the bus kissed his grandfather goodbye through the window.

Separation has killed the people. It's destroyed a generation. War is without a purpose.
Issam, a Syrian whose relatives were fleeing to Iraq
"Grandpa, come on the bus with us. Why aren't you coming with us?" the young boy, Rayan, asked.

His grandfather, who gave his name as Issam, didn't have the Iraqi residency papers needed to cross.

"I'm going to miss you so much," Rayan said. "Grandpa, we will talk on video chat every day, OK?"

"Separation. Separation. Separation has killed the people. It's destroyed a generation. War is without a purpose," Issam told us, crying.

His grandson got off the bus and tugged at his grandfather's shirt. "I'll meet you later," Issam said.

Then Issam told us he didn't know when he would.

October 3, 2019

Tik Tok Told by Gov. to Censor LGBTQ Content in Turkey, Where it is Not illegal to be Gay

Popular video-sharing app TikTok has come under fire after internal documents revealed that the app’s “local moderators” were once instructed to censor LGBTQ content in Turkey, where it is not illegal to be queer. 
The contents of these documents, which were leaked by The Guardian last Wednesday and Thursday, revealed Turkey-specific guidelines restricting content that depicts “intimate activities (holding hands, kissing, touching) between homosexual lovers.” They also uncovered guidelines that banned criticizing or “spoofing” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s current president. 
In response to The Guardian’s coverage, a TikTok spokesperson issued a statement saying that the guidelines regarding LGBTQ content in Turkey are no longer in place. “We have since made significant progress in establishing a more robust localized approach... However, we recognize the need to do more and we are actively working with local third parties and independent advisors to ensure our processes are appropriate,” the statement continued. 
With 500 million active users in 150 countries, the video-sharing app’s success is often attributed to its discovery-oriented features, like the “For You” homepage which enables users to connect with others and get famous fast. ⅔ of TikTok users are younger than 30 years old.
This emphasis on self-expression and community has made TikTok an exciting digital space for LGBTQ-identifying users. During Pride Month this past June, the company partnered with RuPaul’s DragCon to launch the #ServingRealness social campaign leading up to the pride festival DragCon LA. The campaign introduced pride-themed video filters and a hashtag, “ShowYourPride,” intended to help LGBTQ-identifying users express themselves. The hashtag has a staggering 735.7M views.  
News of the company’s anti-LGBTQ censorship policies in Turkey has prompted queer activists and their allies to question the sincerity of TikTok’s progressive initiatives. 
“We’re witnessing now what we’ve already witnessed on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: platforms who get a lot of their advertising dollars and success from the creativity of young people — especially young queer people, young black people, and young women — then creating guidelines that isolate, alienate and exclude us… I’m furious,” said Emily Odesser, a teen activist, sex educator, and social media influencer.
 “TikTok has the capacity to introduce millions of people to positive, nuanced, progressive depictions of LGBTQ people on a mobile media app and right now (their) policies are actively discouraging that,” said Daniel Villarreal, writer and co-founder of the pride celebration QueerBomb Dallas.
“We don’t even know what TikTok’s policies for moderation are in countries where it is illegal to be LGBTQ or to broadcast those images. It’s not explicitly illegal in Turkey to be queer,” Villarreal added.
While homosexuality is not explicitly illegal in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has expressed hostility toward LGBTQ-identifying citizens. Turkish authorities have banned the annual Gay Pride Parade in Istanbul every year since 2016, sometimes using tear gas to disperse defiant marchers. 
The documents also revealed that Douyin — the Chinese version of TikTok  — also instructed local moderators in China to censor videos that mentioned Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, and foreign leaders such as Donald Trump and Mahatma Gandhi — among other restrictions. While TikTok and Douyin are separate entities, both are owned by ByteDance, a Chinese internet technology company.
am a senior at Brown University studying English Literature and Media Studies. My writing has appeared in The Brown Daily Herald, The Shelter Island Reporter

July 2, 2019

Turkish Police Goes After banned Pride march with Tear Gas

Image result for turkish banned gay pride march

Activists gathered in Istanbul to promote rights for gay and transgender people Sunday before police dispersed the crowd at a pride event that Turkish authorities had banned for the fifth year.

The rally on a side street to Istanbul's main pedestrian avenue drew several hundred people, who cheered and waved rainbow flags. Istanbul Pride organizers said the Istanbul governor's office banned the march from central Taksim district as well as a square designated for demonstrations west of the city. 

The Istanbul Pride group said it would continue activism to get sexual orientation and gender identity recognized in Turkish laws.

Amnesty International had urged Turkey to lift the "arbitrary ban" on the pride march. It said authorities rejected all suggested locations in the city by deeming the LGBT community "societally objectionable."  

Istanbul had up to 100,000 people attend a pride march in 2014, but police have blocked such marches since.

Though homosexuality has been legal in Turkey for decades, rights groups say discrimination is widespread.

The new mayor of Istanbul told a group of international journalists Friday that any group should be free to demonstrate as long as protests do not disturb the peace. Ekrem Imamoglu said he'd discuss the reasons for the ban with relevant authorities.


March 19, 2019

“Turkey Still in The Dark-times” ☛☛Turkish Policeman Suspended For Just Being Gay

 Cops in many educated contries (like shown above in a European Capital) cops march with the rainbow and the people are grateful for their services. Are you discriminated for being muslim? Then you know what discrimination feels like and there is no reason to reject decent human beings for their sexuality, religion, skin color...particularly if its something that god has given them. Did god make a mistake??



A Turkish police officer in the eastern city of Van has been suspended from duty because he is gay, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on Sunday.

It all started in late 2017, when 34-year-old Metin, who has served in the police for over 10 years, was imprisoned for eight days last year for sexual violence as a result of statements made by his partner while under interrogation.

Metin and his partner were drinking tea in the police canteen when his partner was taken away for questioning. The partner panicked and said that he was a police officer, which led to imprisonment for impersonating an officer and further questioning, according to DW.

"According to the interrogation transcript, he then told the officers that Metin had forced him to have sex with him, and that he wished to press charges. Metin was subsequently arrested for having perpetrated an act of ‘sexual violence’ against his partner," the website said.

Due to a lack of evidence, Metin was not indicted. He was put on leave, then re-assigned to the northern city of Zonguldak.

But in 2018, a disciplinary committee ruled to suspend him from duty, justifying that "a civil servant can be suspended if he or she is in an unnatural relationship with another person", defining a same-sex relationship as unnatural.

Turkey's LGBT community has long been subjected to state harassment and widespread discrimination. Turkish officials have described homosexuality as “a disease” and rejected proposals for legal protections for LBGT citizens. Homophobic comments from prominent government officials are rather frequent.

Turkey: Being gay could cost you your job | DW | 17.03.2019

A Turkish police officer who identifies as homosexual (gay) has been suspended from duty in the city of Van. He was in the force for over 10 years. DW details his ordeal.


November 20, 2017

The Thin Skin, Homophobic Erdogan From Turkey_ Orders a Halt on All Gay Functions

A Turkish anti-riot police officer steps on a rainbow flag during a rally staged by the LGBT community in Istanbul (19 June 2016)

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captioG

Gay rights activists have criticised what they say is the heavy-handed approach of the Turkish authorities towards them

The Turkish capital Ankara has banned all gay festivals, screenings, forums, and exhibitions on security grounds. 
The governor's office said on Sunday that it also wanted to protect public order and sensitivities.
The announcement follows a move last week to ban a festival of German-language gay films also due to have been held in the city.

Gay and human rights activists march in Istanbul on 23 June 2013
 Homosexuality is legal in Turkey but activists say homophobia is rampant.
["From Saturday] 18 November until further notice, all film and theatre events, screenings, panels, colloquium, exhibitions, etc... have been banned," the city administration said on its website.
It argues that such functions in Ankara and its surrounding province are likely to "provoke reactions within certain segments" of society and are also at risk of being targeted by  The announcement is likely to increase concern among gay activists in Turkey that their rights are being curtailed under the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is rooted in conservative Islam.
Gay activists say they have been subjected to various forms of discrimination including harassment, abuse, and rape.
The popular annual gay pride rally in Istanbul has been blocked for three years by the authorities, who cited security concerns. In 2003 Turkey became the first Muslim majority country to allow a gay pride march.
The perceived erosion of civil liberties in Turkey has caused concern in the West following the failed military coup of July 2016.   More than 50,000 people have been jailed since then, many accused of having links to the plotters. About 150,000 people mostly working for the government have been sacked or suspended.
In a statement announcing the German film ban last week, the office of Ankara Governor Mehmet Kılıclar said the festival's content "could incite grudges and enmity toward a part of society".
Intelligence suggested that "terror organizations" were seeking "to attack dissident groups or individuals" and that the screening "could have been provocative". 
The event's organizers said the festival had already been attacked on social media before it was banned.

BBC Europe

October 12, 2017

The Only Dictator in NATO Turkey's Erdogan Creates Incident By Expulsing US Ambassador

Erdogan, better known as the Thug of Europe with some saying that Turkey should have never been allowed to join Europe, NATO or any agreement with the West because of their past behavior including a massacre.

One could judge the man and show he does not have a single hair of diplomacy in him when his thugs beat American demonstrators a few months ago. He doesn't allow demonstrations in Turkey so He must've thought neither do the US. Not much intelligence there and less intelligence in attacking websites trying to disrupt the traffic to the web. Again he doesn't know those particular attacks does not affect all sites and particularly sites that don't sell anything. I know about his attacks because he has been attacking this site for months after we called him a thug immediately after the beating of American demonstrators.
He does no damage to us and our intelligence services get to see their MO on web attacks. We feel honored when people no matter who they are, showing everyone what they were called was fair because that's what they are.
adamoxie*blog International

Turkey no longer recognizes the US ambassador to Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday, toughening his rhetoric amid a worsening row with the United States, sparked by the arrest of a US consulate employee. 
“We do not recognize him as the representative of the United States of America in Turkey, I say this quite openly,” Erdogan said about John Bass during a news conference while on a trip to Serbia.

“We did not start this problem,” Erdogan said, accusing the US of being responsible for the sharp deterioration in relations.
It was an escalation from the day before when the Turkish leader had only expressed sadness over the row.

We do not recognize him as the representative of the United States of America in Turkey, I say this quite openly TURKISH PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP  ERDOGAN ON US AMBASSADOR JOHN BASS.    (???)

On Sunday, the US stopped offering non-immigrant visa services in Turkey, citing security concerns. Hours later, Turkish missions in the US took a similar step and also froze US passport holders out of an electronic visa system.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US decision was coordinated with the White House.

The Turkish president said that if the suspension of visa services was decided at the top levels in Washington, then Ankara has nothing more to discuss with the US
Nauert also said the State Department is disappointed by the arrest last week of a Turkish employee of the US consulate in Istanbul.

Allowing the employee access to a lawyer “would be a good start to reduce tension,” Nauert said.

The employee is the second US staff member arrested this year, while a third employee is being sought for questioning while his family members are being held in custody.

Erdogan implied “agents” had infiltrated the US consulate in Istanbul, saying: “All this shows us that something is going on in the consulate in Istanbul.”
The president’s words appeared to undercut earlier efforts by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to work towards a resolution.

“I hope that this tension will end soon,” Yildirim told members of the ruling Islamic-conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP), noting that citizens of both countries were being disadvantaged by the visa freeze.

“We started a legal process against some people who work at the American missions,” said the prime minister. “So what?”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Erdogan refuses to recognize US envoy  

August 20, 2017

Germany: Relations With Turkey Can't Go As Before

 Democrat or Sultan? or How about both?

 Germany issued a travel alert for Turkey on Thursday, citing “heightened danger” after the arrest of a German human rights campaigner in Istanbul and marking the latest in a string of incidents that have pushed tensions between Berlin and Ankara close to breaking point.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel voiced scathing criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a press conference, saying Ankara had “abandoned the ground of European values” by jailing “innocent visitors to their country on outrageous charges.” Gabriel added he believed that Turkey had also abandoned NATO’s common values.
Gabriel’s comments followed the arrest on July 5 of Peter Steudtner, a human rights activist from Berlin whom Turkish authorities accuse of supporting a terrorist organization. Steudtner was participating in a workshop with Amnesty International in Istanbul when he was taken into custody.
The minister also announced a wider shift in German-Turkish relations, saying the Turkish president had time and again shown he was not interested in engaging in dialogue. “It takes two to tango,” he said, adding “we can’t go on as before.”
Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries struck a similar tone in a statement emailed to POLITICO. “We are experiencing a nadir in German-Turkish economic relations,” she said.
Zypries said that she would “discuss with our European partners how to proceed. This applies to questions of economic aid for Turkey or the further development of the customs union [with the EU].”
Germany has so far trodden softly in its disputes with Ankara, although it remains unclear if Berlin’s approach has achieved its intended goals. Following Turkey’s decision to ban German parliamentarians from visiting an airbase in Incirlik, Germany decided in June to withdraw its troops.
Germany’s stance has been driven, at least in part, by a desire to avoid derailing the refugee deal struck last year with Erdoğan, under which Turkish authorities stop refugees from traveling into Europe and in return European governments provide funding to the government in Ankara.
“Time and again we showed great patience, when there were accusations which at times are unbearable for German ears” — Sigmar Gabriel
But Gabriel said things had changed. He said the arrest of a German human rights activist proved that “anybody can be affected” by random arrests.
“We therefore have to redefine our policy on Turkey,” said Gabriel, who said this was also the view of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Social Democrat challenger in September’s parliamentary election, Martin Schulz.
Gabriel said “enhanced alerts” that had so far been in place for certain professions — such as journalists — that could face danger in Turkey would now be extended to all German citizens. The website of the foreign ministry was updated to warn all Germans of possible arrests.
“Persons traveling to Turkey for private or business reasons are advised to be more cautious and to register, even for short stays, on the crisis list of German consulates,” the ministry said.

‘We have been disappointed’
Two additional measures that the German government will now discuss on top of the travel alert, according to Gabriel, are a suspension of credit guarantees for businesses that invest in Turkey, and a possible cutting of EU pre-accession aid promised to Turkey as part of its accession process to the EU.
“One cannot recommend anyone invest in a country where … there are examples of expropriations,” Gabriel said.
The minister, a Social Democrat, also said he personally supported the call of his party leader, Schulz, to freeze negotiations on updating the EU’s customs union with Turkey.
Gabriel suggested that Germany is running out of patience with Turkey. The government had exercised “a lot of patience, even if that was not easy,” when Erdoğan “accused Germany of behaving like Nazi Germany” because it wanted to avoid “tearing down bridges,” he said.
“Time and again we showed great patience, when there were accusations which at times are unbearable for German ears. We held back and did not pay back in kind. Time and again we counted on the hope that sanity would prevail … Time and again, alas, we have been disappointed. Time and again, the next step of escalation was taken,” Gabriel said, adding that “the developments in Turkey are obvious and one has to call a spade a spade.”
Anyone who had fired judges and jailed journalists, Gabriel said, “apparently wants to turn back the wheel of history and dismantle the … foundations of rule of law and democracy in Turkey.”

The incarceration of the 45-year-old Steudtner added to already tense relations between Germany and Turkey. Gabriel interrupted his vacation on Wednesday to summon Turkey’s ambassador. Ankara hit back, saying Germany’s criticism of Steudtner’s arrest was “a direct interference in matters of Turkey’s judiciary,” according to Reuters.
Last week, Ankara surprised Berlin by banning German lawmakers from visiting German soldiers stationed at the NATO airbase in Konya, central Turkey.
German tabloid Bild, citing unnamed sources in the German foreign ministry, characterized the current tension as Erdoğan taking German citizens as “hostages” to force Germany to hand over possible supporters of last year’s failed military coup who have asked for political asylum in Germany.
Spiegel Online on Thursday reported Erdoğan had offered to release German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel in exchange for two former Turkish army generals during a visit by Gabriel in June.
Asked about the reports, Gabriel said he had heard about the offer in the press but had not received any calls or letters over the past weeks offering a swap. “I don’t know of an official offer for an exchange,” he said.

July 3, 2017

For Any Abused Gay Iraqi in Turkey, U.S. Refugee Freeze Is the Cruelest

 Istanbul Police attack Gays at Pride March 6 days ago

In Istanbul — For Mohammed, an Iraqi civil engineer, the cruelest experience of his life was not when his father tortured him for being gay.

It was not when Islamic State extremists took over the 26-year-old’s hometown in northern Iraq, forcing him to flee to Turkey. Or when he says he was almost raped at knife point and later laughed out of a Turkish police station when he tried to report the crime. Nor was it in January, when President Trump first tried — unsuccessfully — to bar refugees from entering America.

As Mohammed tells it, the cruelest blow instead came this past week, when the United States Supreme Court agreed to reinstate Mr. Trump’s 120-day freeze on refugee resettlement.

Tens of thousands of applicants for resettlement in the United States are affected by the freeze, and Mohammed is among the unluckiest: His application has been accepted for months, and he was simply waiting for the American government to give him an arrival date. 

“That is the one that destroyed me the most,” he said on Saturday, as he compared the many challenges he has faced in Iraq and Turkey. “I still had some hope before. Now I have none at all.”

Mohammed’s full name and current location are being withheld because of the dangers he faces in Turkey.

He is, ironically, fleeing much of the very extremism that Mr. Trump says he wants to wipe out. Mohammed left Mosul soon after Islamic State militants seized control of the city, when his sister warned him that their father had told the extremist group that he had a gay son.

But Mohammed’s persecution had started much earlier. In 2009, when he was 18, his father, a former officer in the army of Saddam Hussein, caught him during a sexual encounter with male friends. So began half a decade of torture and abuse. As punishment for his sexuality, Mohammed’s father beat him with metal, and sometimes burned him with a hot skewer. His legs and feet still bear the scars.

He was effectively kept under house arrest, allowed out only to complete his engineering degree, and later to work at a local engineering firm. If he was late arriving home, his father would increase the intensity of the beatings. Once, he says, his father punched his head so hard that Mohammed was hospitalized for two days with internal bleeding.

“Torture,” Mohamed said, “was a constant thing.”

With the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, closing in, Mohammed finally decided to escape, taking a bus to Turkey, Iraq’s northern neighbor.

Here, he applied for asylum, beginning a long and often byzantine process during which he was screened by the United Nations refugee agency; the International Catholic Migration Commission, a nongovernmental group that has for decades been involved in the resettlement and vetting of refugees to the United States; and at least three American government agencies, in what United Nations officials have described as the world’s most rigorous refugee-screening system. In the meantime, Mohammed’s life has been neither safe nor stable.

Turkey currently has more non-Palestinian refugees than any other country in the world. But unlike in Western nations, refugees in Turkey are not given the same rights as the indigenous population. The vast majority do not have the right to work, and many resort to exploitative conditions on the black market. 

Mohammed found odd factory jobs, but was always paid around half the legal minimum wage and never received the social security payments that Turkish workers get.

His employment was also easily terminated, as he found out late last year, when a factory manager fired him for developing a friendship with a gay colleague, Mohammed said.

That left him almost destitute, with no income to pay for the tiny room he shares with four strangers whom he does not trust. To keep afloat, Mohammed began to sell his clothes, then his camera, then his watch.

In January, after he was finally approved for resettlement in the United States, Mohammed hoped the windfall from hawking his possessions might tide him over until his departure was confirmed. But then Mr. Trump was inaugurated, and confirmation never came. Instead, the president suspended refugee resettlement, a move that was upheld by the Supreme Court decision this past week.

Now Mohammed is thinking of selling his last remaining valuable, his cellphone. He said he was down to his last 20 Turkish lira, less than $6.

With no family to call on for help, he feels afraid and abandoned, and ostracized because of his sexuality. While homosexuality is legal in Turkey, gay people face frequent abuse and discrimination. Istanbul’s pride events have been banned for the past three years, and people trying to march have been tear-gassed and arrested.

One gay Syrian refugee was murdered in a particularly brutal fashion last summer, and Mohammed himself has been subject to abuse. He recalls being spat on for being gay, and was nearly raped at knife point last year before managing to call for help.

When he reported the episode to the police the next morning, “they started laughing at me,” Mohammed recalled. “They said: ‘You’re not a girl so you can’t be raped.’”

Jobless and friendless, Mohammed, who is represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project, a New York-based refugee rights group providing him with pro bono legal assistance, now feels “on the edge between life and death.”

“I’ve been wronged all my life — by my father, by my family, by Iraqi society, by Turkish society,” he said in an interview.

“And now,” Mohammed added, “by the U.S. resettlement system.”

Follow Patrick Kingsley on Twitter @PatrickKingsley.
A version of this article appears in print on July 2, 2017, on Page A13 of the New York edition 

June 26, 2017

Turkey Police Stops Pride March in Istanbul

A plainclothes police officer kicks an LGBT rights activist as Turkish police enforce a ban imposed on the Pride Parade in Istanbul. An estimated 20 people were detained.

 Police in the Turkish city of Istanbul has thwarted attempts by organizers to hold a banned Gay Pride march.
The organizers of the annual event had vowed to press ahead despite the ban by the authorities, who had cited threats from far-right groups.
But police briefly fired rubber bullets to disperse the marchers and detained a number of them.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey - unlike in many Muslim nations - but homophobia remains widespread.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party is rooted in conservative Islam, has denied wanting to impose traditional religious values, saying he is committed to secularism. But he supports Turks' right to express their religion more openly.
He has been accused of growing authoritarianism in recent years.

'Get used to it'

This is the third year in a row that Turkey's largest city has banned the Gay Pride rally.
The BBC's Mark Lowen, in Istanbul, says the heavy police presence stopped people from entering Istiklal Street, where the rally was scheduled to start.
He says that anybody trying to unfurl a rainbow flag or pass police blockades was prevented from doing so.

A plainclothes police officer kicks a member of a group of LGBT rights activists as Turkish police prevent them from going ahead with a gay pride parade on June 25, 2017, in Istanbul, a day after it was banned by the city governor's office.

 Faced with armed police and water-cannon trucks, the marchers had no chance, our correspondent says. 
The Hurriyet newspaper said that at least 10 people had been detained.
The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf tweeted that a Dutch cameraman, Bram Janssen, was among those arrested.
Earlier on Sunday, the Gay Pride organizing committee had issued a statement saying: "We are not scared, we are here, we will not change.
"You are scared, you will change and you will get used to it. We are here again to show that we will fight in a determined fashion for our pride." 
For more than a decade the event passed off peacefully - tens of thousands used to throng Istiklal street here.
But now, for the third year running, it's been banned, officially because of threats from ultra-nationalist groups, but critics believe that's a convenient scapegoat for a conservative government that doesn't approve of the parade.
Representatives of some European governments were here to support the cause, stressing that Turkey, still a candidate for EU membership, must respect minority rights.
But the criticism is likely to fall on deaf ears among an increasingly conservative government. For long, Turkey was a haven of gay rights in the Middle East. But the Islamist-leaning President Erdogan is accused by critics of molding Turkey in his image and ostracizing the secular, liberal side of the country.

Lara Ozlen, from the organizing committee, told AFP news agency on Saturday: "It is obvious that a peaceful march is part of our constitutional right.
"It's been known for years. Instead of protecting us, to say 'do not march' just because some will be disturbed is undemocratic."
On Sunday, the Dutch consulate in Istanbul unfurled a large rainbow flag in support of the Pride event.
In addition to citing the threats of far-right groups, city officials said they had not received a formal request to hold the march - a claim denied by the organizers.
This year's event also coincides with the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the start of the Eid al-Fitr festival.
Last year, Riot police fired tear gas and plastic bullets after transgender rights activists gathered in Istanbul - in defiance of a ban on marching.
BBC Istanbul

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