Turkey’s two-year state of emergency came to an end at midnight on Wednesday, but as trials of dissidents and journalists continue human rights campaigners have said Ankara must do more to reverse a “suffocating” crackdown on free speech.
Critics say the state of emergency, in place since a failed coup attempt in July 2016 that killed 250 people and wounded 1,400, has been used to detain opponents of the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his government for lengthy periods without trial and to intimidate dissidents and prosecute media outlets.
More than 120,000 people in the police, military, academia, media and civil service have been detained or dismissed from their jobs over their alleged links to Fethullah Gülen, an exiled preacher based in the US whose supporters Ankara blames for the coup.
“Over the last two years, Turkey has been radically transformed with emergency measures used to consolidate draconian powers, silence critical voices and strip away basic rights,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe.
“The lifting of the state of emergency 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.”
Turkey’s government has said it will not seek a renewal of the state of emergency, allowing it to lapse two years after it was imposed and days after Erdoğan was sworn in as president for a fresh five-year term with extraordinary new powers narrowly approved in a referendum last year.
Critics say the use of the emergency powers went beyond Gülenists linked to the coup. About a quarter of Turkey’s judges have either been dismissed or detained, a vast realignment of the judiciary that has prompted outrage and concerns that it is no longer independent.
Thousands have been tried, with many sentenced to life, for involvement in the coup and 100 people have been extradited to Turkey at the behest of the country’s intelligence service, the MİT.
The crackdown has also increased tensions with western allies such as the EU and the US. On Wednesday a court in the city of İzmir ruled for the continued detention of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor accused of having Gülenist links, in a move that could prompt congressional sanction and that was described by an official at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom as a “mockery of justice”.
Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party has tabled a controversial anti-terrorism bill that will retain some of the state of emergency measures. One provision allows local governors to impose curfews or make some areas off-limits to the public, making it easier to ban demonstrations.
The government also appears determined to continue its prosecutions of journalists and opponents.
“Because now in the new system all state power is [held] by President Erdoğan, there is no need [for] emergency law,” said Pelin Ünker, an economy correspondent at Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest newspaper, who is being sued because of her and a colleague’s reporting on the former prime minister Binali Yıldırım’s sons’ stake in offshore shipping companies, revealed in the Paradise Papers.
Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, ahead of China and Egypt, with more than 120 imprisoned since the coup attempt. Cumhuriyet journalists have been prosecuted in numerous court cases, with some, including the current editor-in-chief, appealing against convictions of up to seven-and-a-half years in jail.
Erdoğan’s son-in-law and finance minister, Berat Albayrak, is also suing the journalists because of their reporting on offshore investments listed in the Paradise Papers, a move that the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders condemned as threatening the survival of independent media outlets reporting on corruption.
“Independent media outlets are fewer now than the fingers on one hand,” said Ünker. “Journalism is our job so we have to do it in all conditions, even in the face of such duress and injustice.”
But the crackdown appeared to have barely slowed even as the end of the state of emergency approached. A day before Erdoğan was sworn in, another 18,600 public servants were dismissed over alleged links to terror groups, and on Tuesday academics who had signed a petition calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Kurdish separatists were sentenced to prison.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the largest opposition bloc, the Republican People’s party (CHP), vowed in a party congress to challenge what he described as a “dictatorship” and one-man rule. But on Wednesday the government said it was launching an investigation against Kılıçdaroğlu for insulting the president, an allegation frequently used to intimidate critics, over a cartoon mocking the Turkish president that was shared on social media.
The continued prosecutions offer a hint that, even though Erdoğan is secure in his control of the state’s levers of power and authority, there will be little immediate relief for dissidents.
“I think state of emergency has served its purpose, both politically and practically,” said Selim Can Sazak, a Turkey expert and adjunct fellow at the Century Foundation. “The job is almost complete. Hundreds of thousands purged. Some Gülenists, apparently, but many others not. Universities, bureaucracy, media, etc, largely subdued.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Trump Says He’ll Make a ‘Major Announcement’ Saturday Afternoon About Shutdown, Border
Trump Administration Separated Thousands More Migrants Than Previously Known
The Trump Administration separated thousands more migrant kids from their families at the border than it previously acknowledged, and the separations started months before the policy was announced, according to a federal audit released Thursday morning.
“More children over a longer period of time” were separated at the border than commonly known, an investigator with the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office told reporters Thursday morning.
“How many more children were separated is unknown, by us and HHS” because of failures to track families as they were being separated, he said.
HHS officials involved in caring for the separated children and reunifying families estimated “thousands” of additional children are separated at the border, the inspector general said.
The report sheds new light on the Trump administration’s efforts to deter border crossings by separating migrant families. House Democrats who’ve condemned the separations as inhumane have vowed to investigate the administration’s handling of the policy and its health effects on separated children, and the inspector general said additional investigations are in the works.
The inspector general report said some family separations continued, even after President Donald Trump in June 2018 ended the policy amid uproar and a federal court ordered his administration to reunify the families. The June 2018 court order called on the administration to reunify about 2,500 separated children in government custody. Most of those families were reunited within 30 days.
However, HHS received at least 118 separated children between July and early November, according to the report. DHS provided “limited” information about the reason for those separations. In slightly more than half of those cases, border officials cited the parent’s criminal history as a reason to separate the families, although they did not always provide details. The court order requiring reunifications said family separations should only occur if border officials could specify when parents posed possible dangers to children or were otherwise unfit to care for them, the inspector general noted.
Federal investigators said they had no details about how many of the “thousands of separated children” who entered the care of HHS before the June 2018 court order had been reunited.
“We have no information about the status of the children who were released prior to the court order,” Maxwell told reporters. [POLITICO]
News1 week ago
Pentagon Preparing Options To Build Barriers If Trump Declares National Emergency
News1 week ago
LIVE:Trump Set To Declare National Emergency To Build Border Wall
News3 months ago
Indonesian Lion Air aircraft crashes after going missing
Election 20183 months ago
Can Democrats regain control of the House?
News2 months ago
Page Redirecting – BREAKING NEWS
News3 months ago
Suspicious devices sent to politicians, news outlets
News2 months ago
CNN sues President Trump for banning reporter Jim Acosta
News3 months ago
Cannon House Office Building at the U.S. Capitol evacuated