ANKARA, Turkey – The European Union expressed “concern” Thursday, July 21, over Turkey’s decision to impose a state of emergency following the attempted coup, and urged the country to respect human rights and the rule of law.
Turkey earlier imposed a 3-month state of emergency, strengthening state powers to round up suspects behind the failed military coup and suspending a key European rights convention.
“We are following the developments regarding the state of emergency Turkey has declared after the attempted coup, which the European Union condemned, very closely and with concern,” said a statement jointly issued by the bloc’s foreign affair’s chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn.
“This declaration comes in the wake of the recent unacceptable decisions on the education system, judiciary and the media… we call on Turkish authorities to respect under any circumstances the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right of all individuals concerned to a fair trial,” the strongly worded statement added.
There has been growing global alarm over the extent of legal retribution following the coup that unsuccessfully tried to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but ended with some 50,000 alleged sympathizers in state offices losing their jobs and more than 10,000 suspects detained.
After a marathon meeting of his national security council on Wednesday, July 20, Erdogan declared Turkey’s first state of emergency since 2002, the year before he first came to power as prime minister.
It came into force on Thursday, almost a week after the rebel soldiers surged into the streets with tanks, bombing parliament and shooting protesters on a bloody night of turmoil that left 265 people dead. (READ: Jubilant Erdogan supporters celebrate coup failure)
Erdogan said emergency law would allow Turkey to be cleared of “terrorists” linked to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating the failed coup from his leafy compound in Pennsylvania.
But Erdogan insisted democracy would “not be compromised” and lashed out at critics of the sweeping purge that has raised deep concerns about democracy and human rights in the key NATO member.
The extra powers, to restrict freedom of movement and other rights, were needed “to remove swiftly all the elements of the terrorist organization involved in the coup attempt,” Erdogan said.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the special measures may only last up to 45 days, insisting that “we want to end the state of emergency as soon as possible”.
Asked about whether the government may impose curfews, Kurtulmus said: “Very clearly no. This is not a declaration of martial law.”
But he also said Turkey would suspend the European Convention on Human Rights, saying France had done the same after being targeted by a string of jihadist attacks.
“The road to arbitrary rule, unlawful behavior, feeding on violence, has been chosen,” complained the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
“Society has been forced to choose between a coup or an undemocratic government.”
Responding to a call by Erdogan not to stop protests, thousands of government supporters streamed across one of the two bridges spanning the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul to condemn the coup.
Many carrying lit torches, they held nationalist signs like “Our flag, our nation” and brandished slogans denouncing Gulen, Agence France-Presse reporters said.
Kurtulmus said the coup had claimed a total of 265 lives, including 24 plotters and 241 citizens and members of he security forces who opposed them. Previously, the military had said more than 100 coup plotters were killed.
Erdogan suggested there would be further detentions in the crackdown, which has already netted several widely known figures.
In a brief statement in Ankara early Friday, Erdogan said 10,410 people had so far detained and 4,060 remanded in custody.
Late Wednesday, a court remanded in custody the president’s aide-de-camp Ali Yazici on charges of supporting the coup. Yazici looked after military protocol on state occasions and was regularly seen by Erdogan’s side.
Courts have remanded in custody 109 out of 125 generals and admirals detained so far. Some been seen bruised and wounded in images published by state media.
“Of course that does not mean we have come to the end of it,” Erdogan told Al-Jazeera.
‘Mind your own business’
The Turkish leader has fired back at critics of the government actions, telling France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault – who had warned Erdogan not to use the failed coup as a carte blanche to silence his opponents – to “mind his own business”.
“If he wants a lesson in democracy, he can very easily get a lesson in democracy from us,” Erdogan told Al-Jazeera.
Even before the coup bid, critics had voiced mounting concern about Erdogan’s efforts to silence his opponents and clamp down on the press.
Turkey has stepped up pressure on Washington to extradite Gulen, sending several “dossiers” it says are packed with evidence about his alleged involvement.
Gulen has urged Washington to reject the extradition call and dismissed as “ridiculous” the claim he was behind the botched coup.
Erdogan, asked if other countries could have been involved in the coup, told Al-Jazeera: “There could be.” – Rappler.com
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