Turkey’s pres­i­dent de­clares three-month state of emer­gency to ex­pand crack­down

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - SUZAN FRASER AND CHRISTO­PHER TORCHIA

ANKURA, TURKEY — Turkey’s pres­i­dent has de­clared a three-month state of emer­gency fol­low­ing a botched coup at­tempt, declar­ing he would rid the mil­i­tary of the “virus” of sub­ver­sion and giv­ing the gov­ern­ment sweep­ing pow­ers to ex­pand a crack­down that has al­ready in­cluded mass ar­rests and the clo­sure of hun­dreds of schools.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, who was ac­cused of au­to­cratic con­duct be­fore the in­sur­rec­tion, said on Wed­nes­day the mea­sure would counter threats to Turk­ish democ­racy. Pos­si­bly an­tic­i­pat­ing in­vestor jit­ters, Er­do­gan crit­i­cized Stan­dard & Poor’s for down­grad­ing its credit rat­ing for Turkey deeper into “junk” sta­tus and said the coun­try would re­main fi­nan­cially dis­ci­plined.

The pres­i­dent did not an­nounce de­tails, but the se­cu­rity mea­sure could fa­cil­i­tate longer de­ten­tions for many of the nearly 10,000 peo­ple who have been rounded up since loy­al­ist se­cu­rity forces and pro­test­ers quashed the re­bel­lion that started Fri­day night and was over by Satur­day.

“This mea­sure is in no way against democ­racy, the law and free­doms,” Er­do­gan said in a na­tional tele­vised ad­dress af­ter a meet­ing with cabi­net min­is­ters and se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers.

The state of emer­gency an­nounce­ment needs to be pub­lished in a state gazette and law­mak­ers have to ap­prove it for it to take ef­fect, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts.

Turkey im­posed emer­gency rule in the south­east of Turkey in 1987, al­low­ing of­fi­cials to set cur­fews, is­sue search and ar­rest war­rants and re­strict gath­er­ings as the se­cu­rity forces fought Kur­dish rebels. The emer­gency rule was grad­u­ally lifted by 2002.

The pres­i­dent sug­gested mil­i­tary purges would con­tinue.

“As the com­man­der in chief, I will also at­tend to it so that all the viruses within the armed forces will be cleansed,” Er­do­gan said.

In an ap­par­ent at­tempt to calm fears that the mil­i­tary’s pow­ers will be in­creased, the pres­i­dent said the mil­i­tary will be un­der the gov­ern­ment-ap­pointed gov­er­nors’ com­mand and work closely with the re­gional gov­er­nors.

The pro-gov­ern­ment death toll in the botched coup was 246. At least 24 coup plot­ters were also killed.

Turkey also said it would close more than 600 pri­vate schools and dor­mi­to­ries fol­low­ing the at­tempted coup, spurring fears that the state’s move against per­ceived en­e­mies is un­der­min­ing key in­sti­tu­tions in the coun­try.

Er­do­gan’s gov­ern­ment said it has fired nearly 22,000 ed­u­ca­tion min­istry work­ers, mostly teach­ers, taken steps to re­voke the li­cences of 21,000 other teach­ers at pri­vate schools and sacked or de­tained half a dozen univer­sity pres­i­dents in a cam­paign to root out al­leged sup­port­ers of a U.S.-based Mus­lim cleric blamed for the failed in­sur­rec­tion.

The tar­get­ing of ed­u­ca­tion ties in with Er­do­gan’s be­lief that the cleric, Fethul­lah Gulen, whose fol­low­ers run a net­work of schools world­wide, seeks to in­fil­trate the Turk­ish ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and other in­sti­tu­tions in or­der to bend the coun­try to his will. The cleric’s move­ment, which es­pouses mod­er­a­tion and multi-faith har­mony, says it is a scape­goat.

While Er­do­gan is seek­ing to con­sol­i­date the power of his elected gov­ern­ment af­ter the re­bel­lion, his crack­down could fur­ther po­lar­ize a coun­try that once en­joyed a rep­u­ta­tion for rel­a­tive sta­bil­ity in the tur­bu­lent Mid­dle East re­gion.

It also raises ques­tions about the ef­fec­tive­ness of the mil­i­tary, courts and other in­sti­tu­tions be­ing purged.

“The fact that so many judges have been de­tained, never mind the work­load at the court­houses, will ren­der them in­op­er­a­ble,” said Vil­dan Yir­mibesoglu, a hu­man rights lawyer.

The ed­u­ca­tion min­istry said it de­cided to close 626 pri­vate schools and other es­tab­lish­ments un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for “crimes against the con­sti­tu­tional or­der and the run­ning of that or­der,” the state-run Anadolu news agency re­ported.

The agency said the schools are linked to Gulen, a for­mer ally of Er­do­gan who lives in Penn­syl­va­nia and has de­nied ac­cu­sa­tions that he en­gi­neered the coup at­tempt.

Turkey has de­manded Gulen’s ex­tra­di­tion from the United States. U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry says Turkey must pro­vide hard ev­i­dence that Gulen was be­hind the foiled coup, and that mere al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing wouldn’t suf­fice.

The two al­lies co-op­er­ate in the U.S.-led war against the Is­lamic State group, with Amer­i­can mil­i­tary planes fly­ing mis­sions from Turkey’s In­cir­lik Air Base into neigh­bour­ing Iraq and Syria.

Turkey’s do­mes­tic sit­u­a­tion is in­creas­ingly a con­cern as the crack­down widens. Huseyin Ozev, an ed­u­ca­tion union leader in Is­tan­bul.

The fight against coup plot­ters “should not be turned into a witch hunt,” Ozev said.

HUS­SEIN MALLA, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sup­port­ers of Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan hold plac­ards and wave their na­tional flags dur­ing a pro-gov­ern­ment rally at Kizilay main square, in Ankara, Turkey, on Wed­nes­day.

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