Turkey’s crackdown on freedom of expression highlighted in new report

Protesters hold pictures of jailed journalists during a demonstration outside the courthouse in Istanbul. A recent report highlights Turkey’s repeated violations of human rights. (AFP/File)
Protesters hold pictures of jailed journalists during a demonstration outside the courthouse in Istanbul. A recent report highlights Turkey’s repeated violations of human rights. (AFP/File)
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Updated 01 January 2021

Turkey’s crackdown on freedom of expression highlighted in new report

Turkey’s crackdown on freedom of expression highlighted in new report

ANKARA: A Dec. 29 report from Expression Interrupted highlights Turkey’s repeated violations of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which it is a signatory party, and its failure to comply with rulings handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
Of all 47 members of the Council of Europe, Turkey has the most violations of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Convention. Of the 845 judgments ECtHR delivered between 1959 and 2019, 356 were against Turkey — almost five times as many as against the distant runner-up, Russia.
Turkey also tops the list of rights violations pertaining to all articles of the constitution. “Between 1959 and 2019, 3,645 of the 22,535 judgments delivered by the Court were against Turkey, making it the country against which the ECtHR has delivered the most judgments,” the report reads. Out of 5,231 cases currently pending execution by signatory parties, 689 of them are against Turkey.
The report also noted: “One of the most important reasons for these huge numbers is non-implementation of the previous judgments of the ECtHR, which sets the stage for repetition of similar violations in the future,” and emphasized that broad interpretation of acts including “insulting the president” or “denigrating the Turkish nation/state” have been used as a basis for arrests and convictions, in violation of ECtHR rulings.
The jailed Kurdish politician and former co-chair of Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas, and philanthropist and businessperson Osman Kavala, are two of the highest-profile prisoners in the country, despite rulings from the ECtHR calling for their immediate release. The report suggests that their continued imprisonment is designed “to punish and discourage the exercise of freedom of expression.”
“The speed with which Turkish authorities implement judgments such as those regarding Kavala and Demirtas show what kind of commitment Turkey has to the founding values of the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights,” Massimo Frigo, senior international lawyer at the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), told Arab News.
Last week, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) once again urged Ankara to comply with the ECtHR’s ruling that Demirtas should be released immediately.
Turkey is one of the founding members of the Council of Europe and ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1954. “Under Article 46 of the Convention, Turkey is bound to implement the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights at a domestic level,” human rights lawyer Beril Morel told Arab News.
According to Morel, Turkey has a particularly poor track record when it comes to the implementation of judgments rendered on politically sensitive cases. “The refusal of Ankara to recognize the violations in Demirtaş’ and Kavala’s cases are a recent example,” she said.
Morel cited “the actions of security forces; the lawfulness of detention; domestic violence; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression and information; and freedom of assembly and association” as the topics likely to “top the ECtHR agenda concerning Turkey.”
“Turkey amended its Constitution to recognize the supremacy of international law over its domestic law. Article 90 of the Constitution expressly provides that international conventions concerning human rights, ECtHR being one of these, prevail over domestic law in case of a conflict between those,” Morel said. Therefore, Turkey should implement the ECtHR’s judgements. However, she pointed out, the ECtHR can only intervene in the domestic implementation of its rulings by member states if the matter is brought to its attention with a second application and a violation of Article 46 of the Convention is found.
“We are leaving 2020 behind with a heavy heart. Turkey’s human rights and rule-of-law crisis has deepened further,” Ayse Bingol Demir, a human rights lawyer and co-director of the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project, told Arab News.
According to Demir, the ongoing detention of Kavala and Demirtas — despite ECtHR rulings — will be an important feature of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers’ agenda in 2021.
“Turkey will likely face increasing pressure and sharper decisions from the Committee,” she said. “As it did in the case of Kavala in 2020, I expect the Committee to conclude that the ongoing detention of Demirtas constitutes a continued violation of the European Court’s rulings,” she said.
“The Committee will also focus on arbitrary and unlawful detentions; the frequent use of anti-terror legislation to target the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and opposition politicians; and the lack of independence and impartiality of the judiciary,” she continued. “If the ruling government decides to insist on its current policy of denial, 2021 will certainly be a more difficult year in its relations with the Council of Europe.”


Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up

Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up
Updated 5 min 39 sec ago

Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up

Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up
  • Emirates has resumed flights with all of its 151 Boeing 777 jets
  • Emirates lost 12.6 billion dirhams in the first half of the year

DUBAI: Emirates may need to raise more cash this year, possibly through another equity injection from the Dubai government, if demand for air travel does not pick up soon, its president said on Wednesday.
The state carrier had hoped the global vaccine rollout would renew confidence in air travel but demand remains at very low levels, leaving many airlines to ground planes or fly them near-empty.
“We are good for another six, seven or eight months in terms of cash. We have sufficient cash coming in to be able to keep the day-to-day operation at a neutral basis,” Tim Clark told the online World Aviation Festival.
“But like everybody else, if in six months global demand is where it is today then we are all going to face difficulties. Not just Emirates“
Emirates, which lost 12.6 billion dirhams ($3.4 billion) in the first half of the year, got $2 billion in equity in 2020 from the Dubai government, its sole shareholder.
The airline would make a recommendation to the government on raising cash, Clark said without saying exactly when that would be done.
The recommendation could be for equity injection, or for the airline to raise debt or to take other measures, he said without specifying.
“The balance sheet is pretty strong regardless of what has happened.”
The cash situation, however, could be turned around by September-October as long as demand picks up, Clark said, adding that he hoped the airline would not have to seek cash.
Emirates has resumed flights with all of its 151 Boeing 777 jets which are mainly carrying cargo, with about 20,000 to 30,000 passengers a day.
Clark said the airline could retain some of its older 777 passenger jets that are due to retire and instead convert them into cargo-only planes as freight demand remains high.
He said that he expected there would be demand for business class travel post-pandemic even if corporate travel does diminish through executives opting to hold meetings online instead of traveling.
Demand would likely be supported by cheaper fares to fill business class seats if corporate travel does not rebound, he said.
Clark, who was due to retire last year, said he wanted to set the airline on its future course before he retires, but added he no longer knew when that would be.


Saudi tenor Marwan Fagi kicks off Abu Dhabi Festival’s Ramadan series

Saudi tenor Marwan Fagi kicks off Abu Dhabi Festival’s Ramadan series
Updated 11 min 24 sec ago

Saudi tenor Marwan Fagi kicks off Abu Dhabi Festival’s Ramadan series

Saudi tenor Marwan Fagi kicks off Abu Dhabi Festival’s Ramadan series

DUBAI: The 18th edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF), themed “The Future Starts Now,” kicked off on Tuesday, and to celebrate the launch of its Ramadan series, Saudi singer Marwan Fagi opened up the event with a virtual performance. 

The singer, who hails from Makkah, performed “Ateehu Fika” (Lost in You), a song he composed based on a poem by Lebanese poet Nada El-Hage, with music by Saudi musician Rami Basahih.

Composer, soprano and academic Hiba Al-Kawas produced and conducted the show and mentored Fagi, weaving together the singer’s natural high tones and soothing low tones. 

Fagi was accompanied by members of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra. The performance was streamed online on ADF’s digital platforms.

Members of the orchestra recorded the melody in the National Museum of Lebanon in Beirut, while Fagi recorded his voice in Al-Tayebat International City of Science and Knowledge, an Islamic heritage museum in Jeddah.

Fagi said in a released statement: “Being part of Abu Dhabi Festival is a great opportunity for me, given its cultural status on local, regional and global levels and its unique multicultural message of acceptance and openness, which positively serves the music industry in the Arab world. My current experience with ADF is unique and special because it is liberating from all traditional musical restrictions.”

The Ramadan series, titled “Human Fraternity: Dignity and Hope,” includes digital performances of over 25 songs and chants by Arab vocalists and creators, written by 11 poets and writers and performed by eight chanters and singers who are accompanied by 60 musicians.


Beautiful Game 1 Super League 0: Gulf footie fans rejoice as shares fall

Beautiful Game 1 Super League 0: Gulf footie fans rejoice as shares fall
Updated 11 min 4 sec ago

Beautiful Game 1 Super League 0: Gulf footie fans rejoice as shares fall

Beautiful Game 1 Super League 0: Gulf footie fans rejoice as shares fall
  • Shares in publicly traded Manchester United and Juventus fell on the news as the prospect of a multi-billion dollar pay day for the breakaway clubs was drowned out

DUBAI: Shares in European football clubs fell after plans for a European super league lay in tatters following a global football fan backlash.
In what must rank among the most extraordinary 48 hours in the history of the modern game, 12 of the continent’s most powerful clubs attempted to create a brand new elite league before its would-be founding members began to break ranks one by one.
By early Wednesday all six Premier League teams linked to the project had withdrawn.
Gulf-based football fans rejoiced at the news on supporter club social media.
“We stand firmly behind all supporters groups calling for the ESL to be scrapped,” tweeted the Dubai Reds, the official Liverpool supporters club in the emirate.


Shares in publicly traded Manchester United and Juventus fell on the news as the prospect of a multi-billion dollar pay day for the breakaway clubs was drowned out by a global outcry that appeared to unite fans, pundits and even some of the managers of the clubs involved.
US investment bank JP Morgan had planned to finance the new league, providing a €3.5 billion ($4.2 billion) grant for the founding clubs to help recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has drained revenue from clubs worldwide, Reuters reported.
The collapse of the project has exposed the sometimes bitter rifts between the fans and owners of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. It also leaves a potential legal mess behind as withdrawing clubs risk being sued, the Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said that the league could no longer go ahead after six English clubs withdrew.

The founding members of the league were English clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, Italy’s Juventus, Inter and AC Milan, and Spain’s Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico.


Sudanese commander says liberated territories on eastern border protected, not seeking to attack neighbors or cross border

Sudanese commander says liberated territories on eastern border protected, not seeking to attack neighbors or cross border
Updated 13 min 38 sec ago

Sudanese commander says liberated territories on eastern border protected, not seeking to attack neighbors or cross border

Sudanese commander says liberated territories on eastern border protected, not seeking to attack neighbors or cross border

Sudanese commander says liberated territories on eastern border protected, not seeking to attack neighbors or cross border.

(developing)


Indonesia searching for 53 crew aboard missing submarine, seeks Australia, Singapore help

Indonesia searching for 53 crew aboard missing submarine, seeks Australia, Singapore help
Updated 41 min 33 sec ago

Indonesia searching for 53 crew aboard missing submarine, seeks Australia, Singapore help

Indonesia searching for 53 crew aboard missing submarine, seeks Australia, Singapore help
JAKARTA: Indonesia’s navy is searching for 53 people on board a missing submarine and is seeking help from Australia and Singapore, the country’s military chief told Reuters on Wednesday.
The German-made submarine, KRI Nanggala-402, was conducting a torpedo drill in waters north of the island of Bali on Wednesday but failed to relay the results as expected, a navy spokesman said.
Representatives of the defense departments of Australia and Singapore did not immediately respond to requests for comment.