Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announces 3-month state of emergency after failed coup

July 20, 2016 8:30 pm

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan
speaks during a conference following the National Security Council
and cabinet meetings at the Presidential Palace in the capital Ankara on
July 20, 2016. (AFP)

Turkish President has declared a three-month state of emergency following a failed coup in the country.
During
a live speech delivered from Ankara on Wednesday, Erdogan said the
state of emergency was required “to remove swiftly all the elements of
the terrorist organization involved in the coup attempt.” 
He
further promised that the special measures, which vastly increase state
security powers, would not be a “compromise on democracy”.

“The
aim is to rapidly and effectively take all steps needed to eliminate
the threat against democracy, the rule of law and the people’s rights
and freedoms,” he added. 

Erdogan also claimed that US-based Fethullah Gulen was behind the coup. 
Gulen
has denied any role in the coup attempt, warning the Turks instead that
the move could have been orchestrated by the government to purge its
opponents.
The Turkish president made the announcement after he
chaired a meeting of the National Security Council at the Presidential
Palace in Ankara.  

Pro-Erdogan
supporters hold Turkish national flags during a rally at Taksim square
in Istanbul on July 20, 2016 following the failed military coup attempt
of July 15. (AFP)
Earlier in the day,
he noted that the recent coup attempt may not be fully over yet, and
that foreign countries may have been involved in the attempt.
Meanwhile,
has arrested two members of the country’s constitutional court
along with 111 other judiciary officials. Erdogans’s chief aide-de-camp
has also been formerly charged in relation to the coup.  
The
botched putsch began late on July 15, when a faction of the Turkish
military blocked Istanbul’s iconic Bosphorus Bridge and strafed the
headquarters of the Turkish intelligence agency and parliament in the
capital.
Turkey began to go after those believed to have played a
role in the abortive coup after the one-day attempt was declared over
on July 16. Official estimates show that over 60,000 people, including
senior government and judiciary officials and members of the army, have
been sacked or dismissed from their jobs since then.

Turkey declared a state of emergency today, a move that President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said would enable the state to act faster against
those who plotted a failed coup.
In a late-night televised
address local time, Erdogan, who has been carrying out a large-scale
purge of Turkey’s institutions, sought to reassure the country that the
measure – which would be in force for three months – would protect
democratic freedoms. But the move consolidates more power in the
President’s hands, allowing him to rule by decree.
For the state of emergency to be implemented, the decision must be approved by Parliament.
The
United States and Europe have urged Turkey to follow the rule of law
and maintain democratic order in the wake of the attempted power grab
that saw a renegade part of the armed forces hijack aircraft and attack
key military and government buildings last week. Turkey’s
countermeasures have affected more than 50,000 people – judges, civil
servants, military, police and others – as the country’s leaders seek to
root out opponents and perceived internal dissent.

The Government is presenting the measures as an effort to
confront a wide-ranging conspiracy led by a US-based Turkish cleric,
Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan whom Turkey accuses of running
a terrorist organisation. Critics, however, claim that Erdogan’s
Government is using the coup attempt as an excuse to eliminate the last
vestiges of opposition to its rule.
“The cleansing is continuing,
and we remain very determined,” Erdogan said. He described a “virus”
within the Turkish military and state institutions that had spread like
“cancer”.
Article 120 of the Turkish constitution allows for a
state of emergency to be announced in the event of an act of violence
intended to abolish democracy or cripple fundamental rights and
freedoms, Erdogan said. The declaration would enable Turkey to “take the
most efficient steps” in order to remove threats to “democracy, to the
rule of law and to the freedoms of the citizens in our country,” he
said.
The crackdown against alleged Gulenists has shown no signs
of relenting and continued today as Turkey issued a ban on professional
travel for all academics, opened investigations into military courts and
closed schools.
At least 262 military judges and prosecutors were
suspended as part of an investigation by the Defence Ministry into all
personnel in its judiciary, the private NTV broadcaster reported. The
Education Ministry said it was closing 626 private schools and other
institutions that are under investigation for “crimes against the
constitutional order,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Almost
a third of Turkey’s top military generals have been charged in the coup
plot. Turkish government officials have indicated that authorities may
move to take more control over the armed forces.
The military has
long seen itself as the guardian of secularism in this mostly Muslim
country and has staged a series of coups in past decades, but its power
has been gradually diminished. Thousands of Turks took to the streets to
prevent another coup, but the crackdown has raised fears that Erdogan –
who described the plot as a “gift from God” – will use it as an
opportunity to make the Government more authoritarian.
“The armed
forces . . . will act in unison with the Government,” Erdogan said,
hinting that civil control of the military – long a subject of debate in
Turkey – could be expanded.
According to a senior Turkish
intelligence official, Turkish authorities have begun to arrest defence
attaches stationed in several countries abroad who might have been
involved with the attempted putsch.
Analysts have raised fears that Erdogan may be moving toward establishing a one-party state.
A Turkish intelligence official said he believes elements of the Gulen movement have infiltrated opposition political parties.
According
to the official, Turkish intelligence estimates that at least 100,000
people were involved in planning the coup attempt.
Gulen, the
cleric accused of inspiring the coup attempt, has denied any link to the
plot, implying instead that Erdogan staged it as part of a bid to
consolidate power. Gulen lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania,
and his backers operate education networks in Turkey, the US and
elsewhere.
Turkey has requested Gulen’s extradition from the US.
In
Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Justice Department
has jurisdiction over the issue. “They will have to make their judgments
applying our legal standards to whatever has been put forward,” he
said.
The travel restrictions on educators apply to work-related
trips, the state broadcaster TRT reported. “There are no restrictions to
personal travel,” said a senior Turkish official. He described the
travel ban as a “temporary measure”.
But some professors and
others in academic fields said that their administrators have told them
they cannot leave the country for any reason. Several university
professors also confirmed that their supervisors told them to cancel
holidays and other leave plans indefinitely.
The travel ban came a
day after more than 15,000 education workers were suspended and
resignations were demanded for all university deans. Turkey has also
revoked the licenses of 21,000 teachers.

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