Towards A Homosexual Only Prison

Now surfacing in international media (via AFP & Reuters), this is a far more detailed reading of the justice minister’s recent announcement to build separate prisons for LGBT individuals. As this report (translated from Milliyet daily) by LGBTI News in Turkey points out, there are already “pink wards” in state prisons, but the ruling AKP now intend to segregate those of a “different sexual nature” even further. Spend some time browsing on the LGBTI News blog & you’ll soon see that even with the status quo, LGBT individuals are already a target for harrassment, physical & sexual abuse, & torture — by prison wardens! Meanwhile, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ says the planned separation is all “for their own safety”…


Source: Damla Yur, “Eşcinsellere Ayrı Cezaevi Yolda” (“Towards Homosexual-Only Prisons”), Milliyet, 13 April 2014,

Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ declared that there is an initiation to establish a special prison to hold prisoners and detainees with alternative sexual orientations. The prison plan received negative reactions for the reason that it would alienate LGBT individuals from social life…

The Ministry of Justice has begun the initiation for the establishment of a special LGBT prison for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual inmates who are, at the time, held in “pink wards.” Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ declared that the project has begun to build a prison to hold prisoners and detainees with alternative sexual orientations. This project, which has no precedent anywhere in the world, was met with criticism for reasons that it would “alienate LGBT individuals from socializing environments.”

First came the pink wards

Until recently, there were no specific…

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Is Something Rotten In Ankara’s Mayoral Election? A Very Preliminary Statistical Analysis

As the tweet button says on Swedish Assistant Professor Erik Meyersson’s piece, over 2000 tweets. Why? Because he waded in on the 1st of April to the widespread debate of ballot rigging by the ruling AKP in the 30 March local elections. No credible observer thought the AKP would ever lose these elections. For starters, all the preceding surveys put them well ahead of their nearest rivals, the CHP. That said, the same surveys put the race for mayor of İstanbul (Turkey’s largest city) & Ankara (the seat of power) as tight. Factor in notorious whistleblower tweep Fuat Avni claiming Erdoğan didn’t care about losing any city, except İstanbul, and there comes the motive for what Meyersson takes careful pains to analyse: ballot fraud in these two symbolic cities.

For context, Erdoğan claimed victory with about 70 percent of the votes counted shortly before midnight. In Ankara in particular, districts typically loyal to the CHP were some of the last to be registered. In other words, any claims of irregularities could only be found during the final moments of the count. With “victory” already called for incumbent Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek, any legal challenge would then be left to the courts.

At the time of writing, the Ankara Election Board have rejected CHP’s call for a recount. Their own figures put them ahead, and their final appeal to the Supreme Election Board (or YSK) for a recount will be decided on 5 April.

Meanwhile, here’s Asst. Prof. Meyersson’s detailed overhaul of the count in those two cities. (Short read: there’s enough doubt to warrant a recount.):

Erik Meyersson

Note 1: This post may get updated as additional information on Ankara’s election comes in.

Note 2: This post has now been updated with data from Istanbul – see here)

Note 3: Added two graphs showing party-specific relationships between vote shares and invalid ballot shares. Hat tip for doing these kinds of graphs comes from Twitter user @merenbey.

Note 4: Added heterogenous results showing CHP being penalized by higher invalid shares of ballots much more in above-median pro-CHP districts than in below-median pro-CHP districts.

Having seen tweets on numerous alleged voting irregularities in Turkey and thanks to Twitter user @erenyanik I came across this CHP/STS dataset of voting data in the Greater Municipality of Ankara, one of the tightly contested (less than a percentage point in the vote share) mayor elections between Melih Gökçek and Mansur Yavaş. The dataset includes 12,230 ballot boxes across 1,682 voting locations in 25 districts in Ankara. I didn’t collect the data itself and…

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Killer On The Loose

Berkin Elvan
On 16 June last year, the day after the 3-week-old and peaceful occupation of Gezi Park was forcibly ended in a hail of teargas, 14-year-old Berkin Elvan stepped out in his nearby neighbourhood to buy a loaf of bread and never came home. Instead, after being shot in the head with a teargas canister, he spent the next 9 months in a coma, turned 15 in January, and died Tuesday, 11 March. The tragic news of the belated victim of the 2013 protests — internationally condemned for excessive use of teargas by the police — brought on nationwide mourning and further protests. Over two days and across 53 provinces, some two million people marched in anger and grief. Likewise, similar outpourings took place place across the world in demonstrations from London to Washington. On 12 March, the funeral procession looked like this as it passed through Şişli in İstanbul:

Berkin Elvan funeral procession in Şişli, İstanbul on 12 March, 2014
On the day before, when Berkin passed away, the elected 60-year-old Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stayed silent. True to form, it was no different from his reaction to the other well-documented Gezi fatalities. A stark contrast, by the way, to the glossy tears he shed live on TV for Esma, an Egyptian teenage girl killed during Morsi’s military-backed ouster. He said nothing the day Berkin Elvan died, but he passed comment the next day, the day of the funeral. It went like this: Continue reading “Killer On The Loose”

Mass Torture On The Streets Of Turkey

FOLLOWING ON FROM the recent incriminating report from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) comes Amnesty International’s detailed investigation into this year’s unprecedented anti-government demonstrations. Released early October & weighing in at over twice the size of the PHR study, Amnesty’s in-depth research on the protests that engulfed the country throughout June goes even further in presenting evidence to reach the same, yet necessary, conclusion. In a crack-ridden nutshell, the report — ‘Gezi Park Protests: Brutal Denial of the Right to Peaceful Assembly in Turkey‘ — affirms that government-backed human rights abuses took place on a massive scale. Across 72 pages, Amnesty documents the many victims of systematic violence at the hands of the state police, corroborating its case against the ruling party by making clear Turkey’s obligations, under both national & international law, to protect — not effectively crush — the basic democratic right to protest peacefully: Continue reading “Mass Torture On The Streets Of Turkey”

‘My Body, My Decision’

PROVOCATIVE. POWERFUL. INSPIRING. Just some of the many words that sum up “My Body, My Decision”, an online protest against the upcoming abortion bill, due to be presented to the Turkish parliament this month. With a comfortable majority in the house, the ruling Justice & Development Party — better known by its Turkish acronym, AKP — look set to pass their drastic cut on the time limit, in place since 1983, in which a woman can legally abort the foetus, from 10 weeks down to four.

Alongside the AKP’s rising no-holds barred approach to molding the nation — riding on the crest of their unprecedented 3rd term of office & much-touted “model democracy” for the Middle East — their latest crack at pleasing their core voter base (conservative / religious / Islamic / Islamist — take your pick) has brought a storm of idignation onto the streets, as well as online.

Entering the fray from the outset, one of the few independent news sources in Turkey, (who also report in English), kickstarted their own campaign of outrage with staff members scrawling their message to the AKP goverment across their own bodies & posting the rather creative results on their website. Sensing the mood, Bianet then opened their platform to the public: Continue reading “‘My Body, My Decision’”

WikiLeaks / Stratfor on Gülen, Doğan Media Group, & AKP

Concerning AKP – Gulen relationship: Gulen officially supports a political party for the first time. However, Erdogan doesn’t like him (or hates him). The entire relationship is based on mutual interests. Gulen needs a powerful political party, AKP needs broad political support. They had a major dispute over Ergenekon. At a certain point, Erdogan thought that things might get screwed and wanted to back down a bit. But Gulen insisted on deepening the probe. In the past, the entire rhetoric of the comm. was based on “tolerance”. But now, they don’t show mercy for those who don’t support them. They show target and destroy. Community acts more aggressively. Continue reading “WikiLeaks / Stratfor on Gülen, Doğan Media Group, & AKP”