World News from Turkey
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Blind pop star campaigns on disability
(17.12.10) Metin Senturk is a Turkish pop star and chat show host, with his own weekly television program on music and celebrity gossip, and nine albums to his name.
He is also blind, and a prominent campaigner on disability issues.
Senturk, 44, who founded the Istanbul-based World Handicapped Foundation, wants to stand for the Turkish National Assembly to promote disabled rights and says he mentions disability on his television show every opportunity he gets.
Earlier this year, Senturk set a Guinness World Record for the fastest blind driver, reaching 181 mph in a Ferrari to raise awareness of disability. His car was followed by another driver giving him instructions in an earpiece.
New course to help people with disabilities work in Turkish tourism
(Sahika Temür, Istanbul , Hürriyet Daily News, 21.02.10)
The Istanbul municipality has teamed up with Turkish Airlines, the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies and a global provider of IT solutions for the travel industry in an effort to find more qualified personnel for Turkey 's tourism industry by providing a vocational training course for people with disabilities.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has launched a new vocational training program to help citizens with disabilities find productive employment in Turkey ’s burgeoning tourism industry.
The municipality is working along with the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, or TÜRSAB, Turkish Airlines, or THY, and AMADEUS, a Russian company providing IT solutions for the tourism industry, in an effort to find new employees to compensate for the lack of qualified personnel in the industry.
The six-week-long course has become a source of hope for the trainees in achieving their financial independence. The students come from a variety of occupational backgrounds; they used to work as medical representatives, customs agents and call-center workers before suffering accidents that left them with a disability.
“I hope this course will help me stand on my own two feet. I want a long-term job to shoulder all my expenses on my own,” said Hamza Özer, a 35-year-old trainee who previously worked as a medical representative.
“If I can get the certificate, I will be much happier than I am now because it will help me overcome the financial barriers in my life one by one,” he said.
Bracing for the exam
Some 20 trainees with orthopedic disabilities participated in the course’s first section, yet only four passed the course’s first exam and were allowed to continue on in the program.
Aydın Kırda, a 27-year-old Turkish language teacher, said the exam was bittersweet because, while he succeeded in passing it, many friends did not.
“We were 20 friends in the class, but most failed to pass the first exam. We will have another exam at the end of this stage,” Kırda told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “If we pass the next exam, we will have a better chance to find a job than we have at present.”
An airline ticketing manager from TÜRSAB coordinates the vocational course at the headquarters of the Department of Health and Social Services Directorate for People with Disabilities, or İSÖM, which is run by the Istanbul municipality.
The course teaches all skills that a travel-agency employee must possess, ranging from promoting hotels and car reservations to setting prices and issuing airline tickets.
“Trainees learn manual ticketing over three weeks in the first part of the course. At the moment, they are practicing their skills in a computerized environment,” said Mehveş Çağla, a retired THY ticketing manager. “After the course, they will be able to do everything that is done at a travel agency.”
The oldest trainee in the class is a 40-year-old housewife looking for a good job. “At present, I keep the bar high. I want a long-term job until my retirement,” said Serter Yıldız, who is the mother of two children.
‘Let’s break prejudices’
Trainees say the local authorities should do many more things to help citizens with disabilities become individuals who can contribute to the economy.
“Much has been done so far, but there is still much to be done for citizens with disabilities to integrate into the business world,” said Bülent Yemenli, who used to work as a medical representative before losing mobility.
“All prejudice should be removed. The employers always say there will be no discrimination, but people with disabilities still face it,” he said.
The second course is expected to resume in mid-October with another 20-person class.
Police ignore disabled in metrobus station protest
( Istanbul , Radikal, 20.12.09)A group of citizens with disabilities gathered Saturday at a metrobus station in Istanbul ’s Mecidiyeköy neighborhood to protest accessibility, with police ignoring one protester’s call for help after being caught in the commuter crush.
Fifty protesters, including 10 in wheelchairs, gathered before the turnstiles at the metrobus station to call for greater accessibility to public transport for people with disabilities.
The protest was led by the Association for Disability, a nonprofit organization supporting the human rights of citizens with disabilities and came after the Social Rights and Research Association, or TOHAD, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, filed a lawsuit against the Istanbul municipality because bus and metrobus stations are not suitable for usage by citizens with disabilities.
The demonstrators aimed to draw attention to the difficulties that citizens with disabilities, particularly wheelchair-bound citizens, face while using public transportation.
Participants carried banners saying, “Can you please look at me for a minute?” and “We apologize because we went outside.” TOHAD Chairwoman Seyhan Sandıkyapan said their activities would gradually increase until the needs of citizens with disabilities would be met by local authorities.
“Nearly 8 million citizens with disabilities are living in this country. We want these people to travel freely and adapt to social life easily,” she said in an address to the protest.
A quarrel erupted with passersby because the five-minute-long protest blocked passage for travelers leaving the station. While some passengers supported the protest, others verbally reacted against the protest, shouting “What are you doing here?” “Why don’t you stay at your home?” and “Go protest somewhere else.”
Police warned the protesters to disperse peacefully. A protester with a disability narrowly escaped being crushed by the crowd of travelers leaving the station. When the demonstrator asked a nearby police officer for assistance, he said, “Why should I help you? You started the protest.”
The protest dispersed peacefully with the assistance of TOHAD officials.
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