happening in turkey
June 23, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) took a hit on Sunday, losing the re-run of Istanbul's mayoral election.

Preliminary results show Ekrem Imamoglu of the secularist Republican People's Party, Turkey's main opposition party, won 54 percent of the vote. Imamoglu also won the first election in March, but the results were thrown out after AKP claimed there were irregularities. On Sunday night, Imamoglu vowed to "work in harmony" with Erdogan, and said the people of Istanbul are "opening up a new page" and "on this new page, there will be justice, equality, love."

Many view Erdogan, who served as Istanbul's mayor in the 1990s, as increasingly authoritarian, with little tolerance for opposing views. He once said "whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey," and experts say AKP's loss could lead to an early national election and some top leaders leaving the party. Istanbul is Turkey's largest city and its commercial hub. Catherine Garcia

April 16, 2017

The official results are not yet in, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in Sunday's referendum that would replace the country's current system of parliamentary democracy with an executive presidency.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said 47.5 million votes were cast, and with 99.8 percent of the ballots counted, the "yes" side received 51.4 percent of the vote. The ruling Justice and Development Party put forward the 18-article reform package, which allows the president to hold much broader powers and lets him appoint five of 13 Supreme Court members. "For a strong Islamic state, for a strong Middle East, Turkey had to switch to this executive presidency system," said Aysel Can, a member of the Justice and Development Party's women's branch. "This is a message to the world to shut up; Turkey is getting stronger. America has to know this, too. We are the voice, we are the ears, we are everything for the Middle East."

The opposition has said it will contest around 37 percent of the votes cast, due to the High Electoral Board announcing while voting was underway that it would change the rules to accept unstamped ballots unless they were proven to be fraudulent. Catherine Garcia

September 8, 2016

At least 11,000 teachers in Turkey suspected of having links to an unnamed "separatist terrorist organization" have been suspended, state-run news service Anadolu reported Thursday.

Turkey's Education Ministry says up to 14,000 teachers could ultimately be suspended. A senior Turkish official told CNN the "separatist terrorist organization" is the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish state on and off for almost three decades. There are more than 850,000 teachers in the country, and the official said the suspensions are temporary, pending formal investigations, and the teachers are being paid.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed a coup attempt in July on the cleric Fethullah Gulen, and 21,000 teachers in private schools accused of being his followers have had their licenses revoked. Catherine Garcia

September 1, 2016

The U.S. State Department confirmed Wednesday that an American journalist has been detained by Turkish authorities.

Lindsey Snell, a freelance reporter covering the Middle East and North Africa whose work has appeared on ABC News, Yahoo News, and Vice, was detained on Aug. 7 after she crossed the border from Syria to Turkey, NBC News reports. She has been charged with violating a military zone. State Department spokesman John Kirby said consular officers last visited with her at a prison in Hatay province on Aug. 26, and an official told NBC News the government's goal is to get her to a safe location. The governor of Hatay, Ercan Topaca, told the state-run Anadolu Agency that a "U.S. journalist was captured while she was trying to cross the border illegally; she was taken to court and remanded. The trial phase is ongoing. For now, we do not know if she is a spy or not."

In early August, Snell wrote on her Facebook page that she had been kidnapped by members of Jabhat Fateh al Sham, the group that was once called Jabhat al Nusra and affiliated with al Qaeda. Snell, a Muslim, said she had permission to film in their area and was "staying with the family of one of their recent martyrs," but was still abducted. She was held in a "cave prison," she wrote, but because her captors let her use her phone, she was able to plan an escape. Catherine Garcia

August 17, 2016

On Wednesday, a car bomb went off outside of a police station in the eastern Turkish city of Van, killing at least three people and injuring 40, the state news agency Anadolu reports.

Of the injured, 38 were civilians and two were police officers, Van's deputy governor, Mehmet Parlak, said. Anadolu said Kurdish militants are suspected of being behind the bombing. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but since peace talks broke down in 2015, there have been several clashes between Turkish forces and the PKK. Catherine Garcia

August 7, 2016

In front of at least 1 million people at Sunday's Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said if parliament and the public agreed, he would approve the return of the death penalty.

"It is the Turkish parliament that will decide on the death penalty," Erdogan said, adding, "They say there is no death penalty in the EU … well, the U.S. has it, Japan has it, China has it, most of the world has it. So they are allowed to have it. We used to have it until 1984. Sovereignty belongs to the people, so if the people make this decision I am sure the political parties will comply."

The Turkish government is pinning last month's failed military coup on U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, and thousands of his alleged supporters have been detained or fired from government jobs (Gulen has denied any involvement). BBC News reports Erdogan "also said the state would be cleansed of all supporters," and speaking before Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Gulen will "come to Turkey and pay for what he did." Catherine Garcia

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