By Umit Bektas
Sunday mass has just begun in Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church. It is seven o’clock in the morning and the streets of Midyat, where the majority of the population is Muslim Kurdish, are empty.
But despite the calm outside, the historical church is overcrowded with a community of three hundred people, mostly children. Candles are lit, hymns are sung and prayers are made.
ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish police fired water cannon and teargas on Monday to break up a protest by around 2,000 people outside an Ankara court over the handling of the trial of a policeman accused of killing a demonstrator earlier this year.
A group of protesters wielding sticks descended on the court entrance after a ruling that the accused officer could take part in court hearings via video link, prompting police to intervene, a Reuters witness said.
HATAY, Turkey (Reuters) – Turkey has bolstered its defenses and deployed additional troops on its southeastern Syrian border in recent days as the United States tries to build international support for a military strike on Syria.
The reason for the additional security measures were not clear but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said Turkey was ready to take part in any international coalition against Syria.
ISTANBUL/ANKARA, June 2 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan accused Turkey’s main secular opposition party on Sunday
of stirring a wave of anti-government protests, as tens of
thousands regrouped in Istanbul and Ankara after a lull and
trouble flared again in the capital.
Police used tear gas on protesters in Ankara but the clashes
were relatively minor compared with major violence in Turkey’s
biggest cities on the previous two days.
ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) – Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Turkey’s main secular opposition party on Sunday of stirring a wave of anti-government protests, as tens of thousands regrouped in Istanbul and Ankara after a lull and trouble flared again in the capital.
Police used tear gas on protesters in Ankara but the clashes were relatively minor compared with major violence in Turkey’s biggest cities on the previous two days.
Cizre in Turkey’s Sirnak province, near the border with Syria
By Umit Bektas
Turkey’s fledgling peace process with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group is all over the headlines. After three decades of war, 40,000 deaths and a devastating impact on the local economy, everybody seems ready for peace. TV news channels and newspapers are saturated with opinions and commentary from politicians, officials, academics and journalists on what appears to be the best hope yet of building a lasting peace agreement with Kurdish militants.
But what about ordinary people in Turkey’s southeast, those most directly affected? How do they view the peace process and how might their lives change?
KILIS, Turkey, July 30 (Reuters) – Turkey sent at least four
convoys of vehicles carrying troops and missile batteries to the
border with Syria on Monday amid growing concern in Turkey about
security on its southern frontier, witnesses and news reports
It was the latest in a series of deployments in the region
in recent weeks. There is no indication that Turkish forces will
cross the border, and the troop movements may be strictly
precautionary in the face of spiralling violence in Syria.
By Umit Bektas
I have always wondered how athletes, who must exert incredible amounts of energy in whichever sports discipline they compete in, handle the issue of nutrition. As the London Olympics approached us, we Reuters photographers began to make our photo stories. I decided to create a photography project stemming from this curiosity of mine. I planned to interview some of the Turkish athletes preparing to compete in the Games and take pictures of what they ate. Sometimes you think a project that sounds good will also be easy to carry out and this is very exciting but when you actually become involved that euphoria is replaced by anxiety. This is exactly what happened to me.
The hardest part was to persuade the athletes to spare a few hours in the studio which meant taking a break from their exercise program. I wanted to take photos of six athletes but I was rejected by at least three times that number of other athletes. Some said they were training abroad, or in other cities. For others, their trainers rejected my request saying their charges would “lose their concentration”.
June 8 (Reuters) – Turkish javelin thrower Fatih Avan rests
in the shadow of a tree during a brief respite from his Olympic
training session. While the Games have a special place in his
heart, he is mindful of what he puts in his stomach.
“I may have become an elite athlete with my good
performances but I can only be a great athlete if I can win an
Olympic medal,” he says.
By Umit Bektas
Only a half hour’s walk from the hundreds of tents lined up in the camp would take them to the banks of the Orontes River, the natural boundary between Turkey and Syria. When they cross the river they would be back in the land where they were born and grew up, among the people speaking the same language – their homeland. From the border it is only a short journey to their town or village and their own homes. Yes, the distance is short but what keeps children away from their homes is not always distance. Sometimes it is politics and the conflicts born of politics. And it is precisely this strife that forces the children to live a life in tents in bleak territory. There are reasons behind all conflicts, they have their antagonists, those in the right and those in the wrong, the strong and the weak. Who is right and who is wrong may change according to everyone’s way of thinking but there can be no doubt that the most innocent and the most vulnerable victims of all conflicts are the children.
A small number of the millions of displaced children who have fled fighting around the world are the Syrian children who have found refuge at the Boynuyogun refugee camp in Turkey’s southern Antakya province. Hundreds of them now live with their families in the identical tents pitched in the camp. The Turkish administrators of the camp provide food, clothing, shelter and medical care for the refugees. An important part of life which these children miss now that they are away from home is of course their schools. Because no one can predict how long they will have to stay in this camp, Arabic-speaking Turkish teachers have been assigned to conduct classes for them. These teachers have grouped the children into age groups and teach them in tents, turned into makeshift classrooms.