The government machinery pounced swiftly.

Ten of the signatories were detained on Monday, and another four were ordered to report to the police but were not jailed in view of their advanced years. Mr. Erdogan accused them of plotting a coup, a toxic allegation after four years of thousands of detentions and purges since the last failed coup. Some saw that as a warning to serving officers who might have similar thoughts.

Mr. Erdogan had “got his groove back” Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, wrote in an analysis.

The admirals’ letter did not come out of the blue. A year earlier, 126 retired Turkish diplomats had penned an open letter warning against withdrawing from the convention. The debate reveals the deep divisions between secularists and Islamists that have been tearing Turkey apart since Mr. Erdogan’s rise to power in 2002.

Caught up in their own dislike of the secular republic that replaced the Ottoman Empire, the Islamists distrust the Montreux Convention, said Asli Aydintasbas, a senior fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations. That was an erroneous reading of history, she added, but Mr. Erdogan feels that the convention needs “to be modernized to meet Turkey’s new coveted role as a regional heavyweight.”

Secularists, as well as most Turkish diplomats and foreign policy experts, see the Montreux Convention as a win for Turkey and fundamental to Turkish independence and to stability in the region.

Russia would have most to lose from a change in the treaty, said Serhat Guvenc, a professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, although any alteration or break up of the convention seems inconceivable, since it would demand consensus from the multiple signatories.

“Russia would resent it and be provoked,” he said. The United States and China would gain, since neither currently is allowed to move large warships or aircraft carriers into the Black Sea.

Most analysts said that Mr. Erdogan and his advisers knew the impossibility of changing the Montreux Convention, but that the veteran politician is using the issue to kick up a storm.

“It is the government’s way of lobbying for the canal,” Ms. Aydintasbas said. “Erdogan is adamant about building a channel parallel to the Bosporus, and one of the government’s arguments will likely be that this new strait allows Turkey to have full sovereignty — as opposed to the free passage of Montreux.”

That interpretation is both inaccurate and dangerous, she said. “Inaccurate because as long as Montreux is there, no vessel is obliged to use the new canal. Dangerous because it could aggravate the Russians and the international community.”

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Two Presidents Visited Turkey. Only the Man Was Offered a Chair.

Either way, it came a “terrible time,” said Nigar Goksel, the top Turkey expert at the International Crisis Group, especially because of the recent withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

According to data gathered by U.N. Women, the United Nations agency for women’s rights, 38 percent of Turkish women experience violence from their partner at least once in their lifetime, and more than one in 10 was subjected to domestic violence in the last 12 months. In the 2021 Global Gender Gap report, an annual review by the World Economic Forum that covers economics, politics, education and health, Turkey ranked 133 among 156 countries.

The protocol fail in Tuesday’s meeting comes at a crucial time in Turkey’s relations with the European Union.

In recent months, Turkey has emphasized a desire to improve relations with the bloc and to revive its process for joining. The meeting was intended to build momentum in a relationship that has been fraught with disagreements in recent years on issues like migration, maritime borders and customs arrangements.

“Whatever the realities on the protocol side, the incident clearly underscores the fact that Turkey was blind to the optics of how this would appear,” said Mr. Lesser of the German Marshall Fund. Those optics, he added, “will only underscore the sense that Europe is not on the same page when it comes to values, when it comes to diversity, inclusion and gender equality.”

That point was not lost on the offended party.

Ms. von der Leyen “seized the opportunity to insist on the issues related to women’s rights in general and to the Istanbul Convention in particular,” Mr. Mamer, her spokesman, said. “It would have been discussed certainly in any case, but obviously this sharpened her focus on the issue.”

Matina Stevis-Gridneff reported from Brussels, and Carlotta Gall from Istanbul. Monika Pronczuk contributed reporting from Brussels.

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In Turkey’s Failed Coup, Trainees Face the Same Stiff Punishments as Generals

ISTANBUL — Their happiness shines out of the photograph: 14 graduates of Turkey’s Air Force Academy celebrating their completion of a flight training program with a picture together in front of a fighter jet.

Within months, all but one of the group would be in jail, accused of joining a 2016 coup attempt that brought blood to the streets and threw the country into turmoil from which it has yet to emerge. Last November, 13 of them — the other was not on base, because he was getting married — were found guilty of trying to overthrow the constitutional order and sentenced to life in prison, their military careers and their dreams of flying F-16s dashed.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faced down the coup attempt and cracked down hard in the aftermath, imposing a state of emergency for two years, detaining 100,000 people and purging 150,000 public employees from their jobs. More than 8,000 military personnel were prosecuted for their part in the insurrection, including more than 600 trainees, cadets and conscripts — most in their early 20s — whose misfortune was to have been given orders that night.

Their fate has been largely overlooked in Turkey, where government rhetoric against the coup perpetrators is strident and families and lawyers of the defendants have been scared to speak out. But after the 13 were sentenced to life in prison — 12 of them receiving “aggravated life,” the harshest form of life sentence, without parole — some of their families decided to break their silence.

“We were not expecting them to be acquitted, to be honest, but we were expecting them to be released at least,” said Kezban Kalin, whose son Alper, 30, was among those sentenced. “But aggravated life?”

At first, the trainee pilots and their families had trusted in the system, in part because Turkey’s history has been littered with coups and lower-ranking troops had never been held accountable in such a way.

“When it comes to a coup, it is at the level of generals,” said Ali Kalin, Alper’s father, who is himself a retired army sergeant. “I want to emphasize the injustice. What did they do?” he said of the trainees.

In the summer of 2016, the group had just arrived at Turkey’s Akinci Air Base outside Ankara, the capital, to start training on F-16 fighter jets — the pinnacle of a 10-year military education. On July 15, they were called in to the base take an English exam and were then told to stand by to observe a counterterrorism operation.

But Akinci air base turned out to be the headquarters of the coup plotters, a collection of military personnel and civilians who that evening ordered troops to seize control of key installations, planes to bomb Parliament and a unit of commandos to capture Mr. Erdogan.

The president evaded capture, and in a cellphone interview with a television station, he called on members of the public to face down the putsch. By morning, troops loyal to the government had regained control and attacked Akinci air base, detaining many of those involved.

The trainee pilots had been largely unaware of what was going on, according to their statements to investigators and in court, which the government challenged and which could not be independently verified.

Their cellphones had been taken away — which was normal during a military operation — and the television had been removed from the mess hall where they spent much of the night sitting around, they said. They moved chairs, made tea. Some stood guard on the back entrance to the squadron building, and three were sent to the front gate and handed rifles, although the court found that they had not used them.

As the base came under fire from special forces troops, the trainees were told to leave, which most of them did around 8 a.m., driving their own cars. Alper Kalin arrived home scared and exhausted, but his parents reassured him.

“I did not think anything would happen to those trainees,” Ali Kalin said. “They did not use firearms. They were not involved in anything — just Akinci base was their place of duty.”

Eleven days later, the group was called back to the base to give testimony about the events, and they were immediately detained. Within hours, their names had appeared on a list of personnel purged from the military.

That was a bombshell for the trainees and their families from which they are still reeling. The pilots have been in detention ever since. When their parents and siblings tried to find them at police stations and army bases, they encountered insults and abuse. From being proud parents of celebrated military achievers, suddenly they were branded traitors and terrorists.

“I did not go to the hearings,” said Sumeyra Soylu, 25, whose brother Ali was one of the 13 detained. “There was a certain group of people, known as the plaintiffs, who were cursing and swearing loudly at the relatives of the defendants, and he didn’t want us ever to hear them.”

Then followed four and a half years of legal proceedings as prosecutors indicted more than 500 defendants in the Akinci base trial. In a courtroom the size of a sports arena at Sincan, outside Ankara, 80 trainee pilots went on trial alongside senior commanders and civilians accused of leading the coup. The United States-based Islamic preacher, Fethullah Gulen, was charged in absentia of being the mastermind.

Mr. Erdogan was listed among the victims of the events and was represented throughout the trial by his lawyer, Huseyin Aydin, who often clashed with the defendants and their lawyers.

“The target of the crime of breach of Constitution that many defendants, including the trainee lieutenants, were charged with was President Erdogan,” Mr. Aydin said in written answers to questions from The New York Times.

The trainees were charged with being members of a terrorist organization, trying to overthrow the constitutional order, murder and attempted murder, since eight civilians died in clashes at the entrance of the base. But the prosecution did not produce evidence that implicated them in the coup plot or the clashes that occurred, their lawyer said. The lawyer asked not to be named to avoid legal repercussions for himself.

As trainee officers, they are still undergoing their education and can only take orders, not issue them, he said. Akinci base was their place of work, so they should not be considered guilty simply for being present there, and their own commanders testified in court that the trainees had played no part in the events, he said. Yet in the end, they were convicted, along with all of the others present at the base that night, of trying to overthrow the constitutional order.

“The top commander received the same sentence. The lowest-level soldier received the same sentence,” Ms. Kalin said. “How is that possible?”

Mr. Aydin said that trainee pilots had provided support services that night to the coup plotters in place of the usual staff, including transporting pilots and guarding buildings and captives. “There is no doubt that the trainee pilots contributed to the coup attempt,” he said, adding that the conviction was not final and still had to go through the appeal process.

Many Turks opposed the coup. But as the crackdown has continued for more than four years and swept up many with no connection to the events surrounding it, they have become deeply unhappy with the state of justice.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s largest opposition party, supported Mr. Erdogan against the coup plotters but has since accused him of orchestrating a civilian coup when he rounded up tens of thousands of political opponents, academics, lawyers and journalists who had nothing to do with the coup attempt.

The purges in the armed forces were systematic, rooting out whole units and conducting yearly roundups. Only two pilots remain in the air force from the class of 2010, to which the group of 13 belonged, said a former classmate who was among those purged.

Mr. Kalin, who served much of his career in the gendarme, said: “Our trust in the law, in the courts, in justice, in the state, in the government fell to zero. Even below zero.”

By now, the purges and prosecutions have included thousands in the military — officers and cadets alike.

“Is it OK to darken the lives of that many people without discriminating between the innocent and the guilty?” said Hatice Ceylan, whose son Burak, 29, is among the 13 trainees sentenced. “They are just children. There are plenty like my son, rotting in jail.”

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Erdogan Pulls Turkey From European Treaty on Domestic Violence

ISTANBUL — In two surprise midnight decrees, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew Turkey from an international treaty on preventing violence against women and removed the head of the central bank, moves likely to please his followers but further estrange him from Western partners.

Mr. Erdogan had floated the idea of withdrawing from the treaty, known as the Istanbul Convention, for more than a year as he courted conservative and nationalist followers to shore up his flagging popularity. Opposition parties and women’s groups were opposed amid concerns over rising violence against women in Turkey and women’s groups immediately announced a protest rally on Saturday afternoon.

The president, who has increasingly insisted on greater control over the Central Bank, appears to have opposed a raising of interest rates by the central bank chief, Naci Agbal, before dismissing him.

Mr. Erdogan has steadily concentrated more authority into his own hands over his 18 years in power and his latest actions came amid a flurry of attacks on political opponents that seem intended to solidify his political base.

purchasing the Russian S400 missile system, and facing heavy fines against the state bank Halkbank for its role in violating sanctions against Iran. Mr. Biden has not talked to Mr. Erdogan since taking office, but his administration officials have already brought concerns about human rights into the mix.

Mr. Erdogan has also reiterated his desire to join the European Union. But his latest actions were announced just after a video conference with senior E.U. officials on Friday in which they called for a de-escalation in tensions and the moves appeared to be a calculated snub.

The Council of Europe said on Saturday that Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention was “deplorable because it compromises the protection of women of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond.”

described the move as “a despicable act of recidivism, as well as a harbinger of early elections.”

Burak Ulgen, a writer, tweeted: “Abolishing Istanbul Convention means patting the men on the back, and tell them ‘Please go ahead you can kill women.’ The blood of all the women murdered in this country is on your hands.”

The decrees followed recent attacks on political opponents of Mr. Erdogan that seemed aimed at satisfying his political supporters.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s top prosecutor filed a complaint to the Constitutional Court to close down H.D.P., the largest pro-Kurdish party, accusing it of links to a Kurdish militant group. That brought a swift warning from the State Department that such a move “would unduly subvert the will of Turkish voters.”

On the same day, the Turkish Parliament voted to strip a prominent H.D.P. lawmaker and human rights advocate of his seat and ordered him removed from the chamber. And on Friday, a leader of the country’s Human Rights Association was detained in a morning raid on his house, one of similar 20 detentions in Istanbul and Ankara.

Mr. Erdogan’s moves against the H.D.P. and human rights defenders who are considered sympathetic to the Kurds are seen as a political calculation to raise the standing of his alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party, which has been losing support to its rival Iyi Party in recent months. The tactics also appear to be an attempt to divide the opposition.

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Trial of Woman Who Killed Her Husband Highlights Domestic Abuse in Turkey

ISTANBUL — Handcuffed and naked, Melek Ipek endured a night of beatings, sexual assault and death threats from her husband that left her and their two daughters battered and traumatized. By morning, after he went out and came back to the house, she had picked up a gun and killed him in a struggle.

Ms. Ipek, 31, was detained after calling the police to the scene in the southern Turkish city of Antalya in January. On Monday, she went on trial, charged with murder and facing a life sentence in what is shaping up to be a politically contentious case for women’s rights in the country.

Women’s rights organizations have leapt to support her, saying that she acted in self-defense and had suffered years of abuse by her husband before a long night of torture. If she had been given health care and a psychiatric evaluation after the assault, she would not even be on trial, the Antalya Feminist Collective said in a statement.

For President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of a conservative Islamist movement who has championed the traditional family as the Turkish ideal, episodes like Ms. Ipek’s case have become an increasingly explosive issue. His opponents accuse him of allowing violence against women to soar during his tenure, and women in his own party, if more cautiously, are supporting better protection for women.

266 women were killed in episodes of domestic violence last year. Women’s rights groups say the real toll is much higher, citing their own figures of 370 recorded femicides last year — that is, women murdered by men because they are female — and 171 cases of women who lost their lives in suspicious circumstances. On top of that are women’s suicides that are barely investigated, they say.

a Turkish court in 2017 acquitted two men accused of helping to kill their sister because of her Western lifestyle.

Political opponents and women’s rights campaigners have accused Mr. Erdogan of encouraging the sense of impunity and the subsequent rise in violence by expressing conservative views on women’s role in society and his increasingly authoritarian grip on the judiciary and law enforcement.

In principle, Turkey recognizes women’s rights in legislation and in the Constitution, largely because female activists took part in crafting them, said Hulya Gulbahar, a lawyer who is a member of the Equality Monitoring Platform.

“The issue is,” she said, “as we have seen in the Melek Ipek case, none of the clauses in those laws and the Constitution that are in favor of women are applied.”

In his first decade in power, Mr. Erdogan was applauded for instituting democratic reforms as part of Turkey’s bid to gain membership of the European Union. He also hosted and became the first signatory of the Istanbul Convention, the first international agreement to take on domestic violence, in 2011.

Yet a decade later, women’s rights campaigners say they are fighting attempts from Islamists to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, roll back legislation like articles covering alimony and inheritance rights, and lower the age of consent from 18 to 12.

“Unfortunately we are in a state of trying to protect what we already gained,” Ms. Sonmez said.

As the issue of withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention came to a head last year, Mr. Erdogan encountered resistance from women in his own camp, including in his family.

The Women and Democracy Association, a nonprofit women’s rights organization founded in 2013, of which Mr. Erdogan’s daughter, Sumeyye Bayraktar, is vice president, came out in favor of the Istanbul Convention. Mr. Erdogan appears to have shelved the idea of withdrawing.

The woman’s association is closely aligned with Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party and supports its Islamist ideals, emphasizing the importance for women of family and raising children. But its female members have also been supportive of justice for women in marriage and in the work force.

Nurten Ertugrul, a former party member who resigned after being passed over for a position as deputy mayor in favor of a man, said it was the groundswell of support for women’s rights with the Islamist movement that had prevented the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. Conservative women cannot always speak out, but they encourage others to do so, she said.

If the Justice and Development Party “had not been afraid of their own women’s rage, and of the women who voted for them,” she said, “they would easily have withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention.”

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