Turkish opposition launches campaign to lift Turkey’s 17-month-long rule of emergency

A pro-democracy organisation called “United for Democracy — Demokrasi için Birlik” has launched a campaign for the lifting of the state of emergency in Turkey, reported by online news outlet Ahval on Saturday.

It was declared in July 2016 after a failed coup attempt organised by a group of rouge army officials and bureaucrats. Many international observers criticised the government, saying anti-coup measures are violating basic rights.

Rıza Türmen, a former European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judge and a member of the group has said that “We believe that the first step to a democracy in Turkey is lifting the state of emergency, which the government plans to extend even longer. State of emergency removed the rule of law, the parliament and all the democratic mechanisms in Turkey. It became the baton of the one-man regime.”

United for Democracy has also announced a list of rights violations, economic impact and anti-democratic actions taken by the government during the state of emergency period:

  • 28 emergency decrees were issued, which amended hundreds of laws, however, only 5 of them were discussed in the Turkish Parliament. Legislative power of the Turkish Parliament was taken away.
  • 94 elected mayors were removed by government-appointed trustees. 44 percent of the country’s population is served by mayors not elected by the people.
  • Public servants were unlawfully expelled from office.
  • Turkey fell to 99th place among 114 countries in the rule of law ranking.
  • Fight against corruption has been halted under the state of emergency.
  • The Turkish Lira depreciated 44 percent against the Euro and 36 percent against the US Dollar.
  • Inflation rose from 4,7 percent in July 2016 to 11,9 in November 2017.
  • Emergency rule paved the way for non-transparent public procurement, and allocation of permits pro-government businesses.
  • 6 news agencies, 48 ​​newspapers, 20 magazines, 31 radio stations, 28 TV channels and 29 publishing houses were closed by the government.
  • State of emergency is used to silence opposition. Demonstrations are forbidden indefinitely. NGOs were closed down, festivals and culture-arts events were cancelled under the pretext of the state of emergency.
  • Any dissenting voice, LGBTI actions, environmental platforms, dismissed workers are suppressed with police violence.

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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