Geopolitics

Who Stands To Gain If Turkey Restores Death Penalty

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said he favored restoring the death penalty. It would bring back an ugly face of Turkey, both politically and morally.

Death-penalty supporters and makeshift gallows in Istanbul
Mine Söğüt

ISTANBUL — Right-wing Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and his cabinet members Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Hasan Polatkan were executed after the military coup of May 27, 1960. Regrets and tragedy followed.

After the military memorandum of March 12, 1971, the Turkish Parliament voted for left-wing prisoners Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan to be executions alongside the chants of "three from us, three from you." Scandal and tragedy continued.

A total of 50 people, including a 17-year-old, were executed after the military coup of Sept. 12, 1980. Shame and tragedy. Tragedy and shame.

Turkish authorities have been using the death penalty as a political tool of intimidation for a long time, from the independence tribunals at the modern founding of the country to the military courts. However, our country stopped the practice of executions after 1984 and removed the death penalty from its laws in 2004.

A judiciary that asks "an eye for an eye" does not improve the people but makes them more savage.

Last week, amid national outrage over the murder of a woman by her ex-husband, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he favored restoring the death penalty.

Those who were born after 1984 in Turkey have grown up in a country in which people are not executed — and not really knowing much about the 712 people (including 15 women) who have been executed in the history of the republic. People have learned how the death penalty runs counter to human rights, public conscience and ethics. They know it does not prevent crimes and, most importantly, that the death penalty offers both governments and loved ones of victims a dangerous kind of authority, by rationalizing revenge.

President Erdogan recently threatened to reinstate death penalty in the country — Photo: Xinhua/ZUMA

Currently some are trying to cover up these concrete facts. They try to popularize the death penalty by favoring American law over the European. A child was raped; a woman was murdered; a military coup was attempted: There is always someone ready to cry "death penalty!" Others try to rationalize some kind of public benefit of capital punishment.

But what drops when the death penalty is used is not the crime rate, but the rate of a nation's civilization. A judiciary that asks "an eye for an eye" does not improve the people but makes them more savage. Only certain politicians benefit from the death penalty. On one hand, they glamorize the feeling of revenge and exploit the sensitivities of the people; on the other hand, they have a powerful judicial card against their political opponents.

This country loses its collective mind.

In his book The Human Rights Problem in Turkey, Bülent Tanör noted that the average number of executions in the years of the civil governments rule in Turkey was 2, while during the military regime years the average was 13.5. This alone is enough reason to never mention the death penalty in a country like Turkey, which has a deeply problematic judiciary and government.

This country loses its collective mind after any kind of political turmoil and then historically regrets afterward having executed people. Turkey came to its senses, in a way, years ago and abolished the death penalty. And now that death penalty campaigners propagandize it at every chance they get, it means the country is running low on sanity.

Especially in these days of injustice when the powerful decide what is a crime and what is not; and especially with a president whose conscience favors the death penalty.

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A tribute to the 30,000 Iranian political prisoners murdered in Iran in 1988

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Laba diena!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Afghanistan's Taliban demand to speak at the United Nations, China takes a bold ecological stand and we find out why monkeys kept their tails and humans didn't. Business magazine America Economia also looks at how Latin American countries are looking to attract a new generation of freelancers known as "digital nomads" in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

[*Lithuanian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Taliban ask to speak at UN: With global leaders gathered in New York for the 76th meeting of the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan's new rulers say their country's previously accredited United Nations ambassador no longer represents the country, and have demanded a new Taliban envoy speak instead. Afghanistan is scheduled to give the final intervention next Monday to the General Assembly, and a UN committee must now rule who can speak.

• Four corpses found on Belarus border with Poland: The discovery of bodies of four people on Belarus-Poland border who appear to have died from hypothermia are raising new accusations that Belarus is pushing migrants to the eastern border of the European Union, possibly in retaliation over Western sanctions following the contested reelection of the country's strongman Alexander Lukashenko. The discovery comes amid a surge of largely Afghani and Iraqi migrants attempting to enter Poland in recent weeks.

• China to stop building coal-burning power plants abroad: Under pressure to limit emissions to meet Paris climate agreement goals, China announces an end to funding future projects in Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries through its Belt and Road initiative.

• Turkey ratifies Paris climate agreement: Following a year of wildfires and flash floods, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced at the UN that Turkey will become the last G-20 country to ratify the emissions-limiting accords. Turkey already signed the agreement in 2016, but has yet to hold a vote in parliament.

• Mass evacuations following Canary Islands volcano: More than 6,000 people have fled the Spanish archipelago as heavy flows of lava have buried hundreds of homes. Four earthquakes have also hit the Canaries since the Sunday eruption, which could also cause other explosions and the release of toxic gas.

• Rare earthquake hits Melbourne: The 5.9 magnitude quake struck near Melbourne in southern Australia, with aftershocks going as far Adelaide, Canberra and Launceston. Videos shared on social media show at least one damaged building, with power lines disrupted in Australia's second largest city. No injuries have been reported.

• The evolutionary tale of tails: Charles Darwin first discovered that humans evolved to lose this biological trait. But only now are New York scientists showing that it was a single genetic tweak that could have caused this shift, while our monkey relatives kept their backside appendages.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"The roof of Barcelona" — El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world. Work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882 as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. The Barcelona-based daily reports that a press conference Tuesday confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years. Although it is currently the second tallest spire of the complex, it will become the highest point of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated "great cross."

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Latin America, the next mecca for digital nomads

Latin American countries want to cash in on the post-pandemic changes to the fundamental ways we work and live, in particular by capitalizing on a growing demand from the new wave of remote workers and "youngish" professional freelancers with money to spend, reports Natalia Vera Ramírez in business magazine America Economia.

💻🏖️ Niels Olson, Ecuador's tourism minister, is working hard to bring "digital nomads" to his country. He believes that attracting this new generation of freelancers who can work from anywhere for extended visits is a unique opportunity for all. Living in a town like Puerto López, he wrote on Twitter, the expat freelancer could "work by the sea, live with a mostly vaccinated population, in the same time zone, (enjoy) an excellent climate, and eat fresh seafood." For Ecuador, the new influx of visitors with money to spend would help boost the country's economy.

🧳 While online-based freelancers already hopped from country to country before COVID-19, the pandemic has boosted their current numbers to around 100 million worldwide. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates there could be a billion roaming, digital workers by 2050. Some European countries already issue visas for digital nomads. They include Germany, Portugal, Iceland, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic, but in the Americas, only four countries make the list, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Panama and Costa Rica.

💰 In August 2021, Costa Rica approved a law for remote workers and international service providers, intended to attract digital nomads and make its travel sector more competitive. The law provides legal guarantees and specific tax exemptions for remote workers choosing to make the country their place of work. It allows foreign nationals earning more than $3,000 a month to stay for up to a year in the country, with the ability to renew their visa for an additional year. If applicants are a family, the income requisite rises to $5,000.


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$2.1 billion

Google announced yesterday it will spend $2.1 billion to buy a sprawling Manhattan office building, in one of the largest sales of a building in U.S. history. The tech giant plans on growing its New York workforce to more than 14,000 people.

📣 VERBATIM

It is sickening and shameful to see this kind of president give such a lie-filled speech on the international stage.

— Opposition Brazilian congresswoman Vivi Reis in response to President Jair Bolsonaro's inflammatory 12-minute speech at the UN General Assembly. The unvaccinated head of state touted untested COVID-19 cures, criticized public health measures and boasted that the South American country's environmental protections were the best in the world.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank & Bertrand Hauger

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