Helsinki Commission urges Turkey’s Erdoğan to end rule of emergency

Four senior members of US’s Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which is also known as the Helsinki Commission, has called on Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to lift post-coup emergency rule which has been in force over a year.

Chairman Sen. Roger Wicker, Co-Chairman Rep. Chris Smith, Ranking Commissioner Sen. Ben Cardin,  and Ranking Commissioner Rep. Alcee Hastings said in a letter to Erdoğan on October 17 that the prolonged State of Emergency has been undermining democratic institutions in Turkey.

“Last year, the Turkish people defeated a violent and illegal challenge to their democratic institutions; today, the 15-month-old state of emergency poses a different threat to these same institutions, particularly the judiciary. By facilitating sweeping purges with no evidentiary standards, the state of emergency has upended countless innocent lives and undercuts domestic and international confidence in Turkey’s rule of law.”

“It is clear that terrorism charges under the state of emergency are also being manipulated to suppress the activism of a group of human rights defenders arrested in early July,” the letter added.

The letter was also signed by Helsinki Commissioners Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Thom Tillis, Rep. Roger Aderholt, Rep. Randy Hultgren, Rep. Gwen Moore, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

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 Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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 people including, academics, judges, teachers, police and civil servants etc., nearly 128,000 people have been detained and more than 60,000 people arrested over alleged links to the Gülen movement since a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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