Artist C215 uses stencils to repeatedly paint the faces of ten imprisoned Turkish journalists across the urban landscape in several Parisian districts in a show of solidarity with all journalists detained in Turkey.
“Turkey is now the world’s biggest prison for journalists with dozens in pre-trial detention in harsh conditions on absurd charges,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Thanks to the talent of Christian Guémy, better know as C215, we are going to use the Parisian public space to display the faces of those that Erdoğan wants to silence. It is a way to show they are not forgotten, and to get the public and decision-makers to support them. It is an unusual operation born of a union between RSF’s campaigning and the concerns of an artist whose stencil techniques make it possible for a powerful message to reach a wide public.”
More than 500 #SaveTurkishJournalists stencils will also be distributed in Paris with the aim of allowing anyone to use them to show their solidarity and support for journalists imprisoned in Turkey.
With more than 140 media outlets closed, more than 700 press cards rescinded and more than 100 journalists in prison, Turkey’s media and journalists have been subjected to an unprecedented crackdown since a state of emergency was declared in July 2016.
Oğuz Güven became the 12th employee of the opposition daily Cumhuriyet to be jailed in Istanbul. The trial of RSF’s Turkey representative, Erol Önderoğlu, will resume on 8 June. He is facing a possible 14-year jail sentence on a charge of terrorist propaganda.
Other upcoming trials of journalists:
- 19 June: Start of the trial of Ahmet Altan and his brother, also a journalist.
- 6 July: Resumption of the trial of Murat Aksoy and 28 fellow journalists.
- 24 July: Start of the trial of Musa Kart, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and their Cumhuriyet colleagues.
- 18 September: Start of the trial of Şahin Alpay and 29 other journalists
Turkey is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
Christian Guémy is a leading Parisian street artist who is well known for his stencil work under the moniker of C125. He began painting in 2006, concentrating on portraits. He is politically committed and uses his work to comment on social issues and news developments. His latest show, “La mauvaise réputation” (Bad Rap), opened last weekend at the Galerie Openspace in Paris and will continue until 1 July.
More recently the leader of the regime that was once touted as a model of how Islam and democracy could coexist together has declared that democracy and freedom have no value. It’s obvious that they have no value to Erdogan. Islamists are not noted for valuing any kind of freedom. But much more significantly they have no value to much of the Turkish electorate whose idea of democracy is investing unlimited power in brutal Islamist thugs like Erdoğan.
However, Erdoğan’s nemesis could well be USA. A key figure in the December 2013 corruption revelations against the Turkish government is Iranian-Turkish businessman, Reza Zarrab, who was bribing Erdoğan and many corrupt ministers with millions of dollars to facilitate the export of gold to Iran to break US sanctions. Corrupt terrorist Erdoğan wants Trump to order the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York to drop charges on Zarrab.
Zarrab offered his money-laundering services to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in a 2011 letter, and worked in tandem with Babak Zanjani, who had deep ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Zanjani is the principle operator of a vast money-laundering scheme that helped Iran to sell upwards of $200 billion of oil in violation of international sanctions. Zarrab and his Turkish political partners, including Erdogan himself, were instrumental in laundering the proceeds back to Iran through U.S. and Turkish banks.
Prosecutors in Turkey arrested Zarrab on December 17, 2013, on corruption charges involving bribes to four members of Erdogan’s cabinet, including his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak. Erdogan struck back by firing the prosecutors, police investigators, and judges involved in the probe!
Two months later, five audio tapes of phone conversations between Erdogan and his son, Bilal, on the day of Zarrab’s arrest, show why Erdogan panicked. In the tapes, posted on line, Erdogan can be heard instructing his son to remove $1 billion in cash from his home and the homes of family members before the police arrived.
That money was paid to Erdogan and his family by Zarrab in exchange for allowing Zarrab to launder Iranian oil money through Turkish banks and to buy gold he subsequently shipped to Iran via the United Arab Emirates. By March 2014, he ordered Zarrab released from jail and even commended him as a prominent job-creator and philanthropist. Among Zarrab’s charitable gifts was a $4.65 million contribution to a charity run by Erdogan’s wife, Ermine.
Corrupt terrorist Erdoğan’s close ties to the Iranian regime have often been downplayed in the media and among Middle East pseudo-experts, just as they have downplayed his ties to ISIS. But Reza Zarrab knows the truth. Corrupt terrorist Erdoğan desperately wants to keep Zarrab from appearing at a public trial in New York, where prosecutors could very well convince him to tell the truth about the payoffs to Erdogan and the money-laundering scheme in exchange for a reduction of the 75-year prison term they are currently suggesting.
Zarrab hired Rudy Giuliani onto his legal team, along with former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The two traveled to Turkey to confer with Erdogan about the case and spoke with senior U.S. officials as well, arguing that Zarrab was a non-violent offender who deserved clemency.
They attempted to keep their involvement in the case confidential until Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Lockard outed them in public court filings, accusing the two of seeking to muddy the waters by downplaying the gravity of the charges against their client.
“The entities that benefited from this alleged scheme include the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and agents or affiliates of that entity, Iranian banks that have been sanctioned for their role in providing financing for Iran’s nuclear programs, and Iranian commercial airlines,” Lockard said. While Erdogan might be tempted by this crude attempt at blackmail, he has far more to lose than Donald Trump.
Erdogan appointed retired general Adnan Tanriverdi as his chief advisor. Tanriverdi is the owner of Sadat, which trains official or unofficial paramilitary forces to fight Erdogan’s multitude of wars inside and outside Turkey. Inside means fighting dissidents and outside means training Jihadis to beef up Erdogan’s sectarian wars, Islamization of Europe, invasions of neighbor countries, and capturing Greek islands.
As if all of that is not enough to risk peace by means of an unofficial army in the making, Erdogan recently took another step to enforce his defense against real and fictional enemies. Turkey’s religious affairs general directorate Diyanet issued a circular for the formation of youth branches to be associated with fifty thousand mosques. The youth branches are Erdogan’s mosque militia, like the Nazi Party’s Hitler Youth organization in Germany.
Having youth branches for mosques is a very dangerous act, especially for a country such as Turkey, where societal divisions along secular and conservative Muslims lines are deeply polarized and risk violence. The mosque militia may provoke a secularist reply in the shape of secular youth branches. Then it will be anyone’s guess where and when the first spark of violence will commence. Erdogan commands NATO’s second-largest army and a huge security and intelligence organization. He does not need to build an army of pious youths to provide him personal security. This will only lead to potential violence and to a civil war.
Erdogan embarked on a bloody and cynical Kurdish policy. He wooed the Kurds prior to elections, but forgot his promises once he no longer needed a Kurdish vote. His embrace of the peace process was insincere. As soon as he realized that Kurds would vote for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), he launched a scorched earth policy which transformed towns like Cizre, Silopi, and Nusaybin into scenes remiscent of Aleppo in Syria. After trying peace but experiencing violence remiscent of the mid-1980s, most Turkish Kurds have given up on a common future with their ethnic Turkish compatriots. But, it is not only the Kurds whose mindset has shifted. As Erdogan has consolidated control over Turkish broadcasting and newspapers, Turks are exposed to an ever-shrinking range of permissible voices.
Turks should face reality: Turkey is effectively partitioned. As a result, a new generation of Turks now see Kurds as the other, if not the enemy. Add to this the problem that most Western-oriented Turks have never visited south eastern Turkey, and most Kurds from the southeast if the country no longer can visit Antalya, Bursa, and Izmir. Turkey is already undergoing a psychological partition. Indeed, even Erdogan understands at one level that partition is inevitable, and his economic policies seem to suggest that he has already written off predominantly Kurdish regions.
Psychological separation is impossible to reverse absent wholesale ethnic cleansing. That will be nearly impossible to pull off, however, since the Kurds are armed and experienced. Turks should face reality: Turkey is effectively partitioned. Its borders will change; the only question is whether the new lines will be international borders or internal, federal divisions. Erdogan may see himself as a great leader and a new Atatürk. But while Atatürk built modern Turkey, Erdogan has killed it. He will go down in history not as a hero, but as a corrupt villain who destroyed Turkey for his own vanity.
Officially, Turkey’s General Directorate for Religious Affairs Diyanet has a mission about offering institutional religious services independent of all political ideologies. In practice, Diyanet’s understanding of offering institutional religious services is different from what the term should mean. Recently, the office of Istanbul’s mufti, an official of Diyanet, described the location of a mosque as it was in the past a filthy Jewish and Christian neighborhood.
Diyanet’s institutional religious services overlaps with what in other countries people call intelligence. In a briefing for a parliamentary commission, Diyanet admitted that it gathered intelligence via imams from 38 countries on the activities of suspected followers of the US-based preacher Fetullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government falsely accused of being the mastermind of the attempted coup on July 15. As if it is the most normal thing in the world, Diyanet said its imams gathered intelligence and prepared reports from Abkhazia, Germany, Albania, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.
The full transcript of the Erdogan bribe conversations follows:
Dec 17, 2013 08:02 a.m.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Are you at home, son?
Bilal Erdoğan: Yes, father
RTE: Now! They have started an operation this morning. Ali Agaoglu, Reza Zerrab, Erdogan [Bayraktar former Environment Minister]’s son, Zafer [Çağlayan, former Finance Minister]’s son, Muammer [Guler former Interior Minister]’s son, and so on… Their homes are being searched now.
BE: Say that again, dad?
RTE: I’m saying that right now they are searching the homes of 18 people, like Muammer’s son, Zafer’s son, Erdogan’s son, Ali Agaoglu, Reza Zerrab and so on in this big corruption operation thing.
RTE: OK? Now I’m telling you, whatever you have in the house, get rid of it. OK?
BE: What can I have on me dad? Your money is in the safe
RTE: That’s what I am saying. I am sending your sister now, alright?
BE: Who are you sending?
RTE: Your sister.
BE: Ah, OK
RTE: She knows about it too, OK? Talk to your big brother.
RTE: For him… Let’s do it like this: Talk with your uncle too, he should also get rid [of the money], also talk to your older sister’s husband, he should, too…
BE: What should we do with it, dad, where should we put it?
RTE: To certain places, to some specific places.
(A voice in the background, apparently of the PM’s wife Emine, is heard saying “Berat”)
BE: Berat has some, too.
RTE: That’s what I am saying. Now, get together, go and get your uncle too, I don’t know if Uncle Ziya has any, alright? Also, inform your brother Burak right away, too.
BE: OK dad. You mean Sumeyye … will tell me where to bring it?
RTE: Yes, fine. Just do something, think about it yourselves with your uncle and everyone.
BE: About what to do?
RTE: Yes, yes, let’s get together quickly, by 10.00. Because the issue is…
BE: OK dad.
RTE: OK? Stay in touch.
BE: OK dad.
2nd call 11.17
BE: Father, We got together with Hasan, and so on. We are together with Berat and my uncle, thinking about it. Berat has another idea. He says to give some of it to Faruk [Kalyoncu, a businessman with close ties to Erdoğan and alleged involvement in corruption] for the other business so he can process it like before. Shall we do it, we can take care of a large amount with this.
RTE: We could.
BE: OK. For another part of it, because we have started a business partnership with Mehmet Gur, we thought of giving it to him and telling him to use it for his new projects as they come up. This way, we will be able to reduce the amount and move the rest elsewhere.
RTE: OK, fine, just do it.
RTE: Did Sumeyye arrive?
BE: She arrived home, she’s coming here now. Alright dad, we will sort this out today, inshallah. Anything else?
RTE: It would be good if you… If you can get rid of the lot.
BE: Yes, we will get rid of it all, inshallah.
3rd call 15.39
RTE: Did you do everything else I asked you to?
BE: We will finish in the evening. We sorted some out; We sorted the Berat part, now we will first handle the part with Mehmet Gür and the rest, we will do that when it gets dark.
RTE: What did Sumeyye do?
BE: She took it out, brought it here, we talked…
RTE: Did she sort out both sides?
BE: I think so dad, she said she had emptied both.
RTE: Both sides?
BE: Yes, she said both of them, that’s what you mean when you say both sides, right?
RTE: Whatever. OK, fine.
BE: What time will you arrive?
RTE: About 12.
BE: Safe journey.
RTE: Do not speak on the phone.
4th call 23.15
BE: Hi dad, I am calling to say… we have done most of it. Did you call me, dad?
RTE: No I did not, you called me.
BE: I got a call from a secret number.
RTE: By saying mostly, did you sort the whole lot out?
BE: We have not brought it to zero yet, dad. It’s like this, we still have 30 million euros that we could not yet get rid of. Berat thought of something.. There was an extra 25 million dollars that Ahmet Calik was going to get. They say let’s give it to him. They are talking about doing something when the money comes. And with the money that’s left we can buy a flat from Şehrizar. What do you say, father?
(a sound is heard in the background)
RTE: Is Sumeyye with you?
BE: Ye, she’s here, shall I call her?
RTE: No, there was another sound, that’s why I asked.
BE: Umm.. I mean, he can transfer 25 million dollars to Calik and buy a flat from Sherizar with what’s left.
RTE: Whatever, we will deal with it.
BE: Shall we do it that way?
BE: Do you want for all of it to disappear, or do you want to keep some money for yourself, father?
RTE: No, it can’t stay, son. You could transfer that to the other side, if you had done something with Mehmet, if you had transferred it over there…
BE: Yes, we gave some to them. We gave them 20.
RTE: For God’s sake, if you had transferred it first, then you could do something with it later…
BE: We were able to give this much for now, it is hard already, it’s hard to find a place for it already. We are putting some of it elsewhere, we gave part of it to Tunc, and then…
RTE: did you transfer all to Tunç?
BE: (Sumeyye, can you come) Where, father?
RTE: To Tunç, I said, did you transfer it all to Tunc?
BE: They asked, I think he said that he could take 10 million euros.
RTE: Whatever. Do not discuss all of this like this right now.
BE: OK, then, we will deal with it.
RTE: Ok do it. I am not able to come tonight, I will stay in Ankara
BE: OK, we are dealing with it. Don’t worry.
RTE: I called to see if anything was up.
BE: No, nothing. We finished the tasks you gave us, thank God.
RTE: Is it all taken care of?
BE: Completely – I mean, having said that, I suppose I have the Samandira and Maltepe money, 730.000 USD and 300.000 TL. I will handle these too. We owe 1 million TL to Faruk İsik (AKP MP); I will give it to him and tell him to transfer the rest to the academy.
RTE: Don’t talk openly.
BE: Shouldn’t I talk?
RTE: Do not talk, OK?
BE: Alright dad.
RTE: I mean, do not keep anything on you, whether it is Samandira or whatever… Send it where it needs to be, where do you keep it?
BE: OK dad, but I think currently we are under surveillance.
RTE: What have I been telling to you since the very beginning!
BE: But is it the bodyguard team? Who is following us father?
RTE: Son, you are being tapped.
BE: But apparently they are also visually monitoring…
RTE: That may be true. Now, we have done some things with Istanbul security.