AK-party wins Turkish local election

Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development party (AK-party) gained a substantial victory in the Turkish nationwide local elections on Sunday 30 March. Embattled Premier Erdogan has been accused of authoritarianism and corruption after a string of scandals. The local elections have become an unofficial referendum on Erdogan’s government.

Democratisch feest in Tunesië

Op 22 februari was ik namens het European Forum for Democracy and Solidariteit in Tunesië voor een conferentie van de Progressive Alliance. Op de agenda stonden onder andere de ontwikkelingen in de Arabische wereld. Het was mooi om juist nu in Tunesië te zijn. In januari heeft het land een nieuwe grondwet aangenomen. Deze wordt geprezen als de meest democratische en progressieve grondwet in de hele Arabische regio. De sociaaldemocratische partij Ettakatol is blij en trots. Mede door de inzet van haar parlementariërs en partijleider Mustapha Ben Jafar, die tevens de voorzitter van de Constitutionele Assemblee is, kon deze mooie grondwet tot stand komen.

Egypt sentences 529 to death

An Egyptian judge, in the town of Minya, sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death on Monday 24 March. 16 suspects were acquitted. The court issued its ruling after only two sessions and defence lawyers said they had no chance to present their case. The ruling was the biggest mass death sentence handed out in Egypt’s modern history.

Tensions and clashes in Turkey during Berkin Elvan’s funeral

In Turkey, tensions soared on 11 and 12 March when tens of thousands of people took to the streets and gathered to mourn the death of Berkin Elvan. He died after being in a coma for nine months. Last June he was hit on the head by a tear-gas canister while going to buy bread during the protests against the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was a symbol for the police brutality that, among others, caused the Gezi-protests of last year to escalate. These protests started as a relatively small environmentalist movement to save Istanbul's central Gezi Park but evolved into a nationwide wave of protests against Erdoğan, who is seen as increasingly authoritarian.

Erdogan warns of a possible ban on social media Facebook and YouTube

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has given a warning that his government will block social media networks YouTube and Facebook, which feature in the growing corruption scandal. “If necessary” he would ban them, suggesting that “he would not sacrifice the Turkish people” to the two websites. Both platforms were used to spread the leaks of alleged phone calls between Erdoğan and his son in which they discuss how to hide vast sums of money. The Prime Minister dismisses those phone calls as being a fake montage by his rivals, which he deems ‘vile’ and ‘immoral’. After the local elections on 30th of March, he warned, new steps will therefore be taken to tighten the government’s grip over the internet.

Netanyahu says there will be no peace deal without Palestinian recognition of Israel

Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu said he was prepared to discuss peace with the Palestinians, but offered no concessions. He demanded that the Palestinians would recognize the state of Israel in return. Netanyahu made the statement at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the US leading Israel-lobby organization.

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