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otherchelebi Sep 9th, 2017 05:23 AM

Travelers' Alert By Turkish Foreign Minister
Some months after Germany issued a warning for Germans visiting Turkey because of German journalists, reporters and visitors of Turkish origin and Human Rights defenders were arrested and detained as belonging to or supporting terrorist organisations, Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a warning in return saying that Turks visiting Germany or living there may face ethnic and religious attacks in Germany as well as demeaning action by customs and passport police at airports.

It is true that some passport police have always shown personal prejudice at entry points, as the time a friend was entering Germany in Munich for a skiing vacation in Austria with his family. He and his wife went to two different check-in points with a small daughter each. He and the daughter with him had no trouble but hi wife and other daughter were not only denied entry but also had their Shengen visas canceled in their passports, Officer in question admitted later that he had acted in anger, remembering how he was treated by a traffic cop in Izmir, Turkey on a recent holiday. But it was too late. They all had to return home on the next plane, not only having no vacation but also forfeting all lodging and car rental costs.

On the other hand, I had a great experience with them when I was on transit in Frankfurt to New York with my wife many years ago. I had a German visa but my wife did not. I asked one of the passport police if there was any chance for us to visit the city during the six hour waiting time we had at the airport, explaining that DW did not have a visa. He consulted his superior and we were permitted to leave the airport. They kept our passports for our return and we had chance to visit the city and eat a good meal.

Single cases can be upsetting or surprising but to have a national leader take umbrage at being criticized for his actions and activities against domestic and international opponents and cause mass discomfort for large national and foreign populations is more than sad.

The travel alert included a warning not to discuss politics with anyone while traveling to Germany. I guess that that is an open threat to any, and not only German, travelers to Turkey.

Currently most residents in Turkey are in fear of being persecuted due to any public criticism in the social media, on telephone or even in a taxi cab. I guess only barber shops are immune, but that does not help me as I have very little hair left and use an electric shaver to take care of it at home.

marvelousmouse Sep 9th, 2017 08:08 AM

Were the individuals arrested proven to have any ties to terrorism organizations? I was just curious about that.

There's always the chance you wouldn't be allowed to enter a foreign country. I've met some real treasures among the Canadian border control. Or TSA, which I could see being really leery of if I wasn't an American citizen.

But never discussing politics with anyone while traveling anywhere would seem like a wise rule. I don't even want to discuss it with anyone at home.

quokka Sep 9th, 2017 08:58 AM

I hope you are all aware of the background and purpose of this travel "warning" that the Turkish president issued, and that it should not be taken seriously in any way. To put it politely.

marvelousmouse Sep 9th, 2017 09:08 AM

Where did you get the idea that we were not aware?

I doubt even residents of Turkey are taking this seriously. Or if they are, I bet I know who they blame for potential discrimination outside of their country. That's what I never understand about petty politics like this. All it does is make the instigator look like a fool.

otherchelebi Sep 9th, 2017 10:50 AM

marvelousmouse, As far as I know the only evidence was criticism of the Turkish government or the party in power and its leadership.

The President said a few years ago at a public speech, "You are either for us or against us, there is no in-between. Those who straddle the fence are due to be eliminated."

Turkish government is requesting delivery of some thousand or more political asylum seekers from Germany, immediately without any legal judgement on each case. Those German citizens apprehended in Turkey are apparently hostages to be exchanged for the Turks who are wanted back in Turkey to be tried for real or imaginary crimes.

I know some of the German reporters and managers of German companies in Turkey who have already gone back to Germany, especially after the Turkish government accidentally leaked a list of almost all large German companies operating in Turkey as possible supporters of terrorism.

With all this uncertainty, the only thing I know is that all foreign companies in Turkey have increased costs and prices due to contingency risks, thus supporting the double figure inflation.

Michael Sep 9th, 2017 12:16 PM

<i>Were the individuals arrested proven to have any ties to terrorism organizations?</i>

Proof is not absolute, it is defined by each nation's legal system.

annhig Sep 9th, 2017 12:35 PM

I found this interesting insight into the Turkish legal system in the WP a few days ago:

otherchelebi Sep 9th, 2017 01:37 PM

Annhig,Thanks for finding that article.

Few in other countries realize the tragic absurdity of the situation.

Michael, Do you believe that people are detained, arrested, gaoled, tortured on the basis of the proofs as defined by the national legal system in every country?

Michael Sep 9th, 2017 02:05 PM

We may wish for an ideal, but that is not how one may be judged. Look at the claims of "espionage" or "insulting the leader" that have been applied to jailed foreigners in North Korea. Or consider some of the tenuous claims against prisoners who are in Guantanamo--teen-agers at the time of their arrest considered to be more than Taliban foot soldiers? The charges of espionage against individuals with Iranian and American citizenship.

annhig Sep 11th, 2017 10:53 AM

Michael - there is plenty of evidence from Turkey, even from before the "coup" that the legal system was and is not in fine fettle - lawyers representing terror suspects arrested, and then the lawyers who tried to represent them arrested in their turn, judges who do not follow the party line dismissed, journalists who try to report this and other human rights abuses arrested in their turn, bail denied, appalling jail conditions, etc etc.

Just because it happens elsewhere does not make it any the less wrong.

[and the fact that OC has to be careful about what HE posts makes the point far better than any words from me could.]

Michael Sep 11th, 2017 03:11 PM

I'm not saying that it is right, just that one should not be surprised. The original question: "Were the individuals arrested proven to have any ties to terrorism organizations?" suggests a universal definition of terrorism and a legal process close to ours, which from the other side of the fence might not look that great.

marvelousmouse Sep 11th, 2017 08:39 PM

,"As far as I know the only evidence was criticism of the Turkish government or the party in power and its leadership."

I thought that might be the case, but occasionally an unlikely person is arrested and then evidence does surface later that they were guilty of wrongdoing. And of course proof is not absolute, nor are laws universal but there are cases in which multiple countries agree are terrorism. So I was curious if there'd been follow up, that's all.

I'm inclined to say that there is a universal definition of terrorism, though, to a certain extent. I also think that there's a big difference for being arrested based on something that you did or your associates and being arrested on trumped up charges for political reasons. That kid who died of botulism for example- I wouldn't believe a thing North Korea said about his death or the conditions that led to it, but I do believe that he did what they imprisoned him for in the first place. That's different from being arrested because you were German and the Turks want to use you as leverage.

otherchelebi Sep 11th, 2017 10:30 PM

Two facts:

-32 new prisons have been built in Turkey in the last year,
- 200,000 government employees from the armed forces, police, judiciary and various ministries have been sacked and all their academic or professional qualification rescinded.

- 2,000 or more academics and 20,000 teachers have been sacked.

- Over 6,000 Turks including high level bureaucrats have asked for political asylum in 2016 from Germany alone.

- There are 50-80,000 people arrested for belonging to or supporting a terrorist organization, kept in jail waiting for trial, usually 6-18 months with no access to the case against them.

- There are 180 journalists and editors in jail accused on the basis of their columns, news, tweets.

Just check Angela Merkel's response to the Turkish Foreign Minister's warning, "We welcome Turks to visit Germany without any problems, because this is a lawful country which does not arrest people for their views and opinions."

annhig Sep 12th, 2017 12:18 PM

It may be thought that as a lawyer I am biased but any society that starts to arrest its judges and prosecutors wholesale may be thought by some to be on a very slippery slope.

marvelousmouse Sep 12th, 2017 12:30 PM

With all the people that have been sacked or imprisoned, one has to wonder how their country is functioning at all.

Michael Sep 12th, 2017 12:31 PM

<i>any society that starts to arrest its judges and prosecutors wholesale may be thought by some to be on a very slippery slope.</i>

And yet I can imagine that quite a few people would have found no objection to the arrest of judges and lawyers who practiced in Germany from 1933 to 1945. In fact, I remember reading that one of the problems with the post-war West German judiciary is that too many were trained and practiced under the Nazi regime.

annhig Sep 12th, 2017 07:23 PM

Michael - what some people may or may not think is nothing to the point. The fact is that many remained in post as there was no concrete evidence against them. The position in Turkey is that lawyers and many other professionals are being arrested and held without any evidence whatsoever, save that they are on some "list".

Michael Sep 12th, 2017 10:09 PM

Those in power in Turkey don't see it from your point of view, and the attempted coup gave them the excuse to act accordingly. They will claim that they have to purge those treasonous individuals and their sympathizers, just like those who were legal professionals under the Nazis should have been purged from their professional posts at the end of the war.

otherchelebi Sep 13th, 2017 01:52 AM

Michael, you probably do not have much information on the subject. It is not a philosophical or ethical issue or one subject to political science interpretations.

The people who are accused of treason (all 600,000 including families) did not belong to any group which was involved with a coup or any atrocities like the Nazis.

Many of this group are human rights advocates, teachers, prosecutors, lawyers and judges with different political views, and usually better educated individuals who were critical of the current (and 15 years in power) government or who legally defended only the wrongly accused.

The unsuccessful coup was alleged attempted by a religious sect who were partners of the government party since the inception of the party until 2013 when the party became too greedy. If journalists who wrote books about the secret operations of this sect

Would you feel the same if hundreds of thousands in the USA were fired from jobs by Trump because they were employed by Obama or Bush or the Neocons or Baptists or Mormons? And if someone on the web compared it to bureaucrats left in place in German bureaucracy after WW II? writing that they should all have been kicked out?

vincenzo32951 Sep 13th, 2017 05:20 AM

Defending the Turks on this issue takes some fancy lawyering.

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