Erdoğan’s ultranationalist ally MHP excludes alleged members of Gülen movement from ‘general amnesty’ proposal

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the ultranationalist ally of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has reportedly completed a general amnesty proposal to submit to parliament.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Sunday, the proposal excludes those who have been imprisoned as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The report said the MHP’s so-called eight-article general amnesty proposal also excludes those who were jailed over alleged membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as child abusers and perpetrators of fatal violence against women.

MHP Deputy Chairman Feti Yıldız said their primary concern was to reintroduce these convicts to society, adding that they had reviewed all the general amnesty bills passed by parliament since the founding of the republic.

“In our bill there are reductions in sentences, amnesties and reprieves. While caring about the families of inmates, we should also consider the victims of such crimes,” Yıldız told the agency.

“There should be consensus on the issue. We don’t want to pardon those who are chronic felons.” Yıldız also said they need the support of other parties to pass the general amnesty.

MHP Deputy Chairman Mustafa Kalaycı said one of the first bills to be proposed in parliament after the summer break would be a general amnesty, the Diken news website reported on Friday.

Kalaycı said it was on the party agenda during its campaign in advance of parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24, adding that the MHP plays a key role in passing legislation. Parliament closed for its summer break on July 26 and will resume sessions on Oct. 1.

The MHP currently has 50 parliamentary seats, while the ruling AKP has 290. With 600 members in the Turkish parliament, a motion needs more than 300 votes to pass.

The two parties formed an alliance for the elections as the MHP supported President  Erdoğan’s presidential bid.

“I believe we’ll discuss and come to an agreement with the AKP on the general amnesty proposal. We have made our preparations,” Kalaycı said during a visit to the MHP’s Konya branch for the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha. “This is a social need. We can’t back away from that point. I think the government is aware of the situation,” he added.

During the election campaign, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli repeatedly proposed a general amnesty for the prison population, with the exception of those who were charged with or convicted of membership in the Gülen movement or the PKK. Bahçeli included notorious mafia bosses Alaattin Çakıcı and Kürşat Yılmaz in his amnesty list.

President Erdoğan rejected his ally’s proposal several times before the election.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since the coup attempt in July 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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