Turkish government planning to extend state of emergency

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Bekir Bozdağ has signaled that state of emergency which has been in place since a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 will be extended for another three months.

“The need for an extension of the state of emergency is obvious. If Parliament approves it, the state of emergency will be extended again,” Bozdağ said on Thursday in a televised interview with private broadcaster Habertürk TV.

The AKP government declared a state of emergency on July 20, 2016 following the coup bid on July 15. It was extended for a sixth time on Jan. 18, 2018 and will expire on April 19.

According to the Turkish Constitution, a state of emergency can be declared for a maximum period of six months. To start this process, the National Security Council (MGK) advises the government to extend emergency rule, and the Cabinet’s decision is then submitted for a parliamentary vote.

The European Union has been calling on Turkey to end the state of emergency since last fall. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) strongly oppose the state of emergency.

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 autocratic 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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