UN rights chief voices deep concern over mass arrests, purges, renewal of state of emergency in Turkey

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein voiced deep concern on Monday at mass arrests, sackings and the renewal of the state of emergency in Turkey, saying terror should not be tackled at the expense of human rights, the Reuters reported.

“It is highly unlikely that the suspensions and detentions will have met due process standards,” Zeid told a news briefing after the latest round of suspensions of civil servants and arrests of police in the country. “Journalism is not a crime in Turkey, it is an issue the government must pay deep attention to,” he added.

Nearly 4,000 public officials were dismissed on April 30, including more than 1,000 people working for the justice ministry.

“With such a large number, it is highly unlikely these suspensions and detentions will have met due process standards,” Zaid said, referring to the 3,974 public officials who were fired and the wider nine-month arrests since the July 2016 failed coup attempt.

Zeid also said he was “very concerned about the renewed state of emergency,” which Turkey extended by parliamentary vote on April 18, saying the decision was made amid “a climate of fear in the country.”

Since July 15, 2016, over 130,000 people from state institutions have been purged by Turkish government which has already detained more than 120,000 people over alleged links with Gülen movement. According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, even till that date, a total of 113,260 people have also been detained  and 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the coup attempt.

The military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.

May 1, 2017

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