Turkish parliament passes controversial anti-terror law to replace emergency rule

The Turkish Parliament on Wednesday passed an anti-terror law proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the termination of a state of emergency (OHAL) in the country.

The law was backed by deputies of the ruling AKP and and its ultra-nationalist ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). It received 284 votes in favor, 95 against and one abstention in the 600-seat parliament.

The anti-terror law empowers governors and security forces with certain powers that they exercised under the state of emergency for three more years.

The law also authorizes the government to dismiss personnel of the Turkish Armed Forces, police and gendarmerie, and public servants and workers if they are found to be linked to a terrorist organization.

The law will be forwarded to the president for his formal approval and subsequently published in the Official Gazette.

The state of emergency was declared in Turkey on July 20, 2016 by the AKP government in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. It was extended seven times, the last time being in April, and was allowed to expire on July 19.

Following the termination of the state of emergency, the new anti-terrorism laws, which the government says will prevent an “interruption in the fight against terrorism,” were opened to debate in Parliament. Opposition groups said the proposed laws were as oppressive as the state of emergency.

According to the law, governors will be able to limit the mobility of individuals who are suspected of disturbing the public order in designated places for as long as 15 days if there is a strong indication that the public order will be disrupted.

The governors will be able to restrict or arrange the gathering of individuals in specified places and at certain hours as well as prohibit individuals from carrying or transporting their licensed guns or ammunition. They will also be able to declare extraordinary security measures.

In the new law a temporary article that has been added to Turkey’s Anti-terrorism Act (TMK) specifies the period of detention in terrorism-related crimes as 48 hours, although it can be extended to four days if committed collectively. This article will be valid for three years as of the time it goes into effect. Periods of detention can be extended twice if necessary.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings under the state of emergency in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organisation,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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 had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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