Turkey’s main opposition leader: Government uses emergency rule to fight opposition

Main opposition CHP chairperson Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed the intention to extend the state of emergency for the sixth time and said  on Tuesday that Turkish government under the rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been using emergency rule to crack down on the oppositional groups and dissident voices and not to fight the coup plotters.

“The state of emergency will be extended. The parliament has long been bypassed,” Kılıçdaroğlu told his parliamentary group on Tuesday, according to a report by Hürriyet daily news. “They told me they were planning to use the state of emergency for a very short period when they first declared it [in mid-July 2016 after a controversial coup attempt],” Kılıçdaroğlu said, recalling his conversation with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım in the aftermath of the coup bid on July 15, 2016.

The government first declared the state of emergency on July 21, 2016. Government spokesman and deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced on Monday the government’s decision to extend the state of emergency for another term in a bid to continue to its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

“Why are they extending it? If it is about fighting FETÖ, then do it. Has anyone tried to stop you from fighting FETÖ? They do the complete opposite. They fight against the opposition and not against FETÖ,” Kılıçdaroğlu said by parroting the derogatory label “FETÖ” used by autocratic President Erdoğan and his government for the alleged members of the pacifist Gülen movement.

The government is also trying to crack down on media outlets, journalists and heads of civil society with dissident voices, Kılıçdaroğlu complaint and claiming that Turkey has already become an open-air prison. Kılıçdaroğlu has also slammed supreme judicial bodies, particularly the Judges and Prosecutors Council (HSK), accusing the body of acting as the judges of the presidential palace. “They change the judges who are assigned to look into compensation cases Erdoğan files against me. They do it over night. Whatever you do, I will fight until the end,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

“If people are charged with a crime by those who run the country and then the justice system acts upon, then one can no longer talk about justice in that country. That means the end of justice,” he said, calling on judges to live up to their honor.

People need to be able to trust in justice in any country in order to feel secure, Kılıçdaroğlu said, emphasizing the independence and impartiality of judicial bodies. If prosecutors initiate legal action upon the instruction of those who are in the government that would best be called a “Hitler model,” Kılıçdaroğlu stressed.

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 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

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