Thu, Jul 19, 2018 - Page 6 News List

After two years, Turkey ends state of emergency

FEARS:A new ‘anti-terror’ bill proposes measures that formalize some of the harshest parts of the emergency, the main opposition party said

AFP, ISTANBUL, Turkey

People shout slogans as they carry a flag on a street near Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge during clashes with military forces in Istanbul on July 15, 2016.

Photo: APF

Turkey’s state of emergency, which was imposed after the failed 2016 coup was to end yesterday, but the opposition fears it will be replaced by even more repressive legislative measures.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the state of emergency on July 20, 2016, five days after warplanes bombed Ankara and bloody clashes broke out in Istanbul in a doomed putsch bid that claimed 249 lives.

The measure, which normally lasts three months but was extended seven times, has seen the detention of about 80,000 people and about double that number sacked from jobs in public institutions.

The biggest purge of Turkey’s modern history has targeted not just alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher blamed for the coup, but also Kurdish activists and leftists.

The former leaders of the opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas — are still languishing in jail following their arrest in November 2016 on charges of links to Kurdish militants.

During last month’s presidential election campaign, which he won, Erdogan pledged that the state of emergency would end — and it was to end yesterday simply by virtue of the government not asking that it be extended.

However, the opposition has been angered by the government’s submission of new legislation to parliament that apparently seeks to formalize some of the harshest aspects of the emergency.

The bill, dubbed “anti-terror” legislation by pro-government media, is to be discussed at commission level today and then in plenary session on Monday.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said the new measures would amount to a state of emergency on their own.

“With this bill, with the measures in this text, the state of emergency will not be extended for three months, but for three years,” CHP deputy parliamentary group leader Ozgur Ozel said.

“They make it look like they are lifting the emergency, but in fact they are continuing it,” he added.

Under the proposed legislation, the authorities would retain for three more years the power to sack civil servants deemed linked to “terror” groups, retaining a key power of the state of emergency.

Protests and gatherings would be banned in open public areas after sunset, although they can be authorized until midnight if they do not disturb the public order.

Local authorities would be able to prohibit individuals from entering or leaving a defined area for 15 days on security grounds.

And suspect can be held without charge for 48 hours or up to four days in the case of multiple offenses. The period can be extended up to twice if there is difficulty in collecting evidence or if the case is deemed to be particularly voluminous.

The authorities have also shown no hesitation in using the special powers of the emergency — right up to its final days.

Following a decree issued on July 8, 18,632 people were sacked — 8,998 of them police officers — over suspected links to terror organizations and groups that “act against national security.”

The move came just two weeks after Erdogan was re-elected under a new system that gives him greater powers than any Turkish leader since the aftermath of World War II.

The new executive presidency means government ministries and public institutions are now centralized under the direct control of the presidency.

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