Turkish Parliament extends state of emergency for 7th time

Turkey’s state of emergency was extended on Wednesday by three months for the seventh time as the Turkish Parliament passed a bill presented by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which is under the strict rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Parliament’s decision to extend the state of emergency one more time came just a day after the European Union in a report called on the Turkish government to lift the ongoing emergency rule without delay.

The European Commission released its most critical report yet on Turkey since the country launched its bid to join the EU over a decade ago. The European Commission warned that Turkey is taking “major steps” in the wrong direction and also that years of progress are being lost.

The ruling AKP and its ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voted in favor of the extension, while main the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) voted against. The seventh extension of the state of emergency will be in force until July 18, 2018. Turkey is planning to hold parliamentary and presidential elections during the prolonged state of emergency, on June 24, 2018.

Emergency rule was first imposed by the Turkish government after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and was extended on Oct. 19, 2016, Jan.19, 2017, April 19, 2017, July 20, 2017, Oct. 17, 2017 and Jan. 18, 2018.

According to the Turkish Constitution, a state of emergency can be declared for a maximum period of six months. During emergency rule, the Cabinet has the right to issue statutory decrees under the president of the republic without regard to routine procedures or restrictions in Article 91 of the constitution. These decrees are first published in the Official Gazette and then submitted to Parliament for ratification.

The Constitution requires that in order to enact emergency rule, the government must see serious indications of widespread violence that could interfere with Turkey’s democratic environment or its citizens’ basic rights and freedoms as established by the constitution.

The AKP has issued a number of government decrees through which tens of thousands of academics, politicians, teachers, doctors, officials, businessmen, artists and journalists have been purged due to their real or alleged connections to the Gülen movement as well as opponents from liberal and leftist groups in Turkey.

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

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