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”

Zero The Money, Maximise The Bull

FOR FOREIGNERS TRYING TO KEEP UP with the continuous saga of the epic corruption scandal gripping Turkey since mid-December last year, the daddy of all wiretap leaks (after numerous predecessors) came this week, late in the evening on Mon. 24 Feb. The bombshell of hearing PM Erdoğan telling his son — across 5 phone calls & 24 hrs — to get rid of a cool 1 billion dollars hard cash on 17 Dec., the day 3 simultaneous probes broke wide open, sent social media into understandable overdrive. As midnight Monday (local time) approached, Erdoğan convened a damage limitation meeting with the national spy chief, the justice minister, & a deputy PM. Unlike previous wiretap leaks, which were either ignored or explained away, this time came a fierce denial from the Prime Minister’s office, as reported by Reuters:

The recordings, which were released via the Internet this evening, accompanied with the allegation that they were a telephone conversation between our Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son, are completely untrue and the product of an immoral montage. Those who created this dirty conspiracy targeting the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey will be brought to account within the law.

Meanwhile, the two largest opposition parties, the CHP & MHP, also held emergency sessions through the night, after which the CHP leader, calling the recordings genuine, demanded Erdoğan “take a helicopter” & “flee abroad” or resign. All very stern stuff indeed, but to understand exactly why, here’s a concise summary of the five recordings from the Dragoman Review. For context, the first telephone call takes place at 8:02 A.M. on 17 Dec., after dawn police raids had hauled in some 49 people, including three AKP ministers’ sons, the CEO of state-owned Halkbank, & a well-known property tycoon: Continue reading “Zero The Money, Maximise The Bull”