Fears grow of Turkish repression

  • 22/07/2016
Fears grow of Turkish repression

Turkey has sought to assure its citizens and the outside world that there will be no return to the deep repression of the past, even as President Tayyip Erdogan imposed the first nationwide state of emergency since the 1980s.

With authorities cracking down on tens of thousands of people in the judiciary, education, military and civil service after last weekend's failed military coup, a lawmaker from the main opposition party on Thursday said the state of emergency created "a way of ruling that paves the way for abuse".

Germany called for the measure to be ended as quickly as possible, while an international lawyers' group warned Turkey against using it to subvert the rule of law and human rights, pointing to allegations of torture and ill-treatment of people held in the mass roundup.

Announcing the state of emergency late on Wednesday, Mr Erdogan said it would last at least three months and allow his government to take swift measures against supporters of the coup, in which 246 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

It will permit the president and cabinet to bypass parliament in enacting new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms as they deem necessary.

For some Turks, the move raised fears of a return to the days of martial law after a 1980 military coup, or the height of a Kurdish insurgency in the 1990s when much of the largely Kurdish southeast was under a state of emergency declared by the previous government.

About 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended, detained or have been placed under investigation since the coup was put down.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, who previously worked on Wall Street and is seen as one of the most investor-friendly politicians in the ruling AK Party, took to television, Twitter and news conferences in a bid to calm nervous financial markets and dispel comparisons with the past.

"The state of emergency in Turkey won't include restrictions on movement, gatherings and free press etc. It isn't martial law of 1990s," he wrote on Twitter. "I'm confident Turkey will come out of this with much stronger democracy, better functioning market economy & enhanced investment climate."

Markets were less than confident. The lira currency was near a new record low on Thursday, while the main stock index tumbled 4.4 percent. The cost of insuring Turkish debt against default also surged.

The state of emergency went into effect after it was published in the government's official gazette early on Thursday. Parliament formally approved the measure on Thursday.