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Tensions High As Turkey Passes Law To Let Kurdish Language In Court

Turkish Ministry for Justice
Turkish Ministry for Justice

ISTANBUL – Turkey has finally passed a hotly-debated law that will allow Kurdish criminal defendants to speak their mother tongue in court. The drama leading up to Thursday's vote is a reminder of how complicated -- and charged -- the broader "Kurdish Question" continues to be in Turkey.

The final round of debate on pitting Kurdish and nationalist MPs got so heated that the Parliamentary session had to be suspended on Wednesday.

The session set out to determine whether members of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) would be able to defend themselves in Kurdish in court during their trial.

The suspects, who include Kurdish activists, journalists and politicians, are facing terrorism charges for their ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S and the E.U.

During the parliamentary session, members of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) who strongly oppose legal defense in Kurdish, had to be physically separated from representatives of the Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democratic Party (BDP).

“Legitimizing the sovereignty of terror”

The debate heated up when the MHP argued that accepting the request would equate to bowing down to the will of a terrorist organization. “This law aims to legitimize the sovereignty of terror,” said Oktay Vural, the MHP’s parliamentary deputy chairman. Members of the main opposition Republican People’s Party also got into a verbal scuffle with members of the BDP, causing the session to be adjourned.

In the second half of the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag took to the floor and defended the proposed law. He said such laws were on the books in places such as Switzerland. “Changing the judicial language is out of the question, the laws are written in Turkish and the questions will be asked in Turkish,” Bozdag explained. “(But) the draft law will ensure that those who do not know Turkish will have translators whose fees are covered by the state and those who do know Turkish, but wish to speak in another language will pay their own translation fees.”

The law was drafted after 64 Kurdish political prisoners embarked on a hunger strike in September with three core demands: the release or fair trail of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party leader, Abdullah Ocalan, the right to defend themselves in their mother tongue in court and the right to study in Kurdish.

After Ocalan called the end of the hunger strikes, new peace talks began between Turkey and the PKK leader, but the process has lost momentum after three Kurdish activists were killed in Paris earlier this month.

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Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGOTikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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