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Turkey Live Coverage (4 April): A "Casus Belli" for Syria?

1830 GMT: Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc spoke about the "importance of press in counter-terrorism." Arinc continued:

Freedom of press is essential and it should not be censored. However, the limits of this freedom is clearly written in the European Convention on Human Rights. We shall think that every country also needs to pay attention to these limits. However, there should be a mentality expanding these borders and interpreting freely so that the press can work more freely and more comfortably.   

1745 GMT: A 4.3-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey's Bingol province. No injuries reported yet. 

1700 GMT: President Abdullah Gul commented on the ongoing coup trial. Gul said:

We are living a period of our political history from which lessons must be drawn. This will lead to a very important mentality change that there will be no such attempts anymore.

1620 GMT: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized all opposition parties in the Parliament, Republican People's Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) for their previous positions on the government's plan to bring the 1980 coup makers to justice.

Erdogan said that all parties issued statements against the 12 September referendum, claiming that Justice and Development Party (AKP) couldn't bring them on trial and that it was a big lie. 

1540 GMT: Thousands of Kurds have gathered in Strasbourg, in front of the central building of the Council of Europe. Protesters want the Council to take an initiative on the Kurdish issue and to bring the problem forward in talks with Turkey.

1515 GMT: Co-chairman of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Selahattin Demirtas criticized the government regarding its prohibition of Abdullah Ocalan (the imprisoned leader of PKK)'s birthday celebrations. Demirtas said: "While Kenan Evren is on trial of making a military coup, Erdogan himself is maintaining a coup in practice."

15000 GMT: A man acting as an Armenian soldier in a battle re-enactment marking the liberation of the Ercis district of Van province has been injured

1445 GMT: In the wake of Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani's calling the participants of the 'Friends of Syria' meeting as the "enemies of Syria"; Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called Iranian ambassador Didier Reynders to his office for further explanation

Larijani had stated that the meeting was held in order to help Israel have more breath in the region and blamed the Western countries for being "silent" against the "brutal regime of Bahrain" if their only concern was democracy.

1400 GMT: One joint attorny of the coup trial proposed that two leaders of 1980, Kenan Evren and Tahsin Sahinkaya, must be arrested and brought into the court inside a cage.

1340 GMT: The Turkish Foreign Ministry has reiterated a warning to Turkish nationals not to travel to Syria due to the deteriorating security situation.

1255 GMT: Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that his country proposed other venues such as Iraq or China for the talks with the Western powers next week although Istanbul had always been the first choice. Salehi said:

Holding talks in Baghdad, and also China, as venue has been out there. This is a course that both sides need to agree on. İstanbul was our initial proposal as the venue for the talks. The Europeans initially rejected but then agreed. At the same time, we had other countries in mind.

1245 GMT: A 4.6-magnitude earthquake hit the eastern province of Van. No casualties reported yet. 

1220 GMT: In a clash with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the southeastern province of Hakkari, one soldier was killed and another was injured.

1100 GMT: The trial of the 1980 military coup started today although two indicted leaders couldn't attend due to their health problems.

Human Rights Watch said that the trial should focus not only on the illegality of the coup but also on the evidence of gross human rights abuses in its aftermath. Turkey researcher Emma Sinclair-Webb said:

The 1980 coup derailed democracy and ushered in restrictions on rights and freedoms still in evidence in Turkey today. This trial offers an important opportunity to deliver justice for the gross human rights violations that followed the coup – most notably, mass torture and deaths in custody, which amount to crimes against humanity under the present Turkish Penal Code.

Casus Belli for Syria? At a weekly meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Parliament, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised the UN Security Council, "The UN Security Council has given indirect support to the oppressor. Waiting idly while the people of Syria keep dying every day amounts to supporting oppression."

Meanwhile, Syria’s permanent representative to UN Bashar Jafaari denounced the ‘Friends of Syria’ conferneceheld in Istanbul at the weekend. Jafaari said that the Turkish government pursues a hostile policy against Syria. He said the hosting of a meeting aimed at violating the territorial integrity of a neighbour is a casus belli. Jafaari continued:

Kofi Annan has stated from the very beginning that he wants to speak to the Syrian administration as one voice. However, it seems that others are trying to form parallel ways to lower the voice. The enemies of Syria meeting in Istanbul is a clear example of this.

Trial of Coup Masters Begins

Hundreds of complainants, including the government, the Parliament and many political parties, are seeking the status of co-plaintiff at the 1980 coup trial which starts on Wednesday. 

Two surviving leaders of the coup --- retired general and former president Kenan Evren (94) and former commander of the Air Force Tahsin Şahinkaya (86) --- are expected to give their testimonies to the Ankara 12th High Criminal Court in their homes due to their health problems. 

Kurdish Issue Remains

At the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)’s group meeting, co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas criticised the government on the Kurdish issue. Demirtas said:

If they want to carry out a negotiation with us, they shall first give up the language of insulting. We are not an extension of anyone. We take no orders or get authority from others but only from our people. 

Third Bomb in Two Days

After a bomb explosion that wounded two and a bomb found on Monday, a third explosive was defused safely in the Kagithane district of Istanbul on Tuesday. 

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