Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

Turkey ends state of emergency but continues crackdown

  • The state of emergency was imposed after the failed coup attempt in July 2016 (Photo: Reuters)

Turkey ended a two-year state of emergency on Thursday morning (19 July) but is set to introduce extraordinary measures to keep a tight grip on society.

The emergency regime had been imposed in July 2016 after the coup attempt, which president Recep Tayyip Erdogan attributed to US-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Since then, over 77,000 people have been arrested and more than 130,000 civil servants, military, lawyers and judges have been dismissed over alleged involvement with Gulen, or with Kurdish movements.

Turkey is also the country with the most jailed journalists, and many newspaper have been shut or taken over by figures close to Erdogan.

"The end of the state of emergency does not mean our fight against terror is going to come to an end," justice minister Abdulhamit Gul said as he presented a new anti-terror bill to be discussed in parliament on Thursday.

Under the bill, some measures from the state of emergency would continue to apply for up to three more years - especially those allowing for the dismissal of public officials.

Suspects would be held without charge for 48 hours or up to four days in case of collective offenses, with a possible extension to 12 days.

Protests and public rallies would be banned after sunset, and local authorities would be able to ban people from certain areas for 15 days.

"The 'coup process' is still under way today," opposition CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu told the party's parliamentary group earlier this week, referring to Erdogan's crackdown. "Now, they bring legislation to parliament, to make emergency rule permanent."

"The lifting of the two-year state of emergency is a step in the right direction," said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International's deputy Europe director. But he insisted that "[this] alone will not reverse this crackdown."

"What is needed is systematic action to restore respect for human rights, allow civil society to flourish again and lift the suffocating climate of fear that has engulfed the country," he said.

The lifting of the state of emergency, at the end of seven extensions, and the new bill, come three weeks after Erdogan was reelected president and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) won parliamentary elections.

Erdogan's victory was greeted by a brief, cold message from the presidents of the European Commission and Council, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, indicating the bad state of relations between Turkey and the EU.

Juncker has warned several times that Turkey, a candidate country, was "moving away" from the EU because of the crackdown since the failed coup and the strengthening of Erdogan's personal power.

In its latest accession report, in April, the EU commission noted that "the broad scale and collective nature, and the disproportionality of measures taken since the attempted coup under the state of emergency, such as widespread dismissals, arrests, and detentions, continue to raise serious concerns."

It called on Turkey to lift "without delay" the state of emergency.

In a statement later on Thursday, the commission said that the adoption of the new bill "granting extraordinary powers to the authorities and retaining several restrictive elements of the state of emergency would dampen any positive effect of its termination."

While accession talks are stuck, the European Parliament called last year for a "temporary freeze," and some EU countries have demanded the end of the talks.

"EU membership negotiations with Turkey should be stopped immediately," Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said last week.

Turkey's anti-terror legislation is also blocking talks to lift visas for Turks coming to the EU.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

Opinion

Erdogan's diplomats have become 'Gulenist-busters'

Under president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's diplomats have been turned into agents hunting supposed followers of his opponent Fethullah Gulen, and are now suspected of harassing journalists even in Belgium.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us