Despite calls from international rights organizations and the European Union, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday promised not to end an ongoing state of emergency (OHAL) and called for the continuance of a witch-hunt against the faith-based Gülen movement, during the third extraordinary congress of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), where he was to be elected chairman, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Speaking to the crowd at the Ankara Sports Hall, Erdoğan said: “They ask when OHAL will be lifted. In my country, there was an attempt to destroy the state. How can you ask when OHAL will be lifted? It will not be lifted. Why should OHAL be lifted before this county reaches peace and prosperity?”
The ruling AKP government declared a state of emergency on July 20, five days after a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. On April 18 Parliament approved a three-month extension to the state of emergency.
Erdoğan called for support for operations against the Gülen movement. “I call on all to give support. We will provide a more decisive struggle,” he said.
According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt.
“There are currently 221,607 inmates in prisons. Prison capacity is 203,000, making them 9 percent over capacity,” said Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Basri Bağcı informed Parliament, saying that some inmates have to sleep in shifts.
Last month a letter written to Frederica Mogherini, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, and Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, by a group of human rights and journalist organizations expressed concern about yet another extension of the state of emergency in Turkey, saying that “the far-reaching discretionary powers exercised by the Turkish authorities during the nine months of the state of emergency have deeply undermined the rule of law and human rights safeguards.”
“We do not need to be patient any more about the hypocritical threat of the European Union. The EU is in a position to decide,” said Erdoğan, speaking on relations with the bloc.
Following a war of words between Ankara and Brussels, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Tusk will meet with Turkish President Erdoğan in Brussels on May 25, AFP reported.
Attacking EU countries during his nonstop “yes” campaign ahead of a referendum on April 16, Erdoğan labeled Europe as “the center of Nazism today” and “the alliance of crusaders.”
Erdoğan described the congress as a “resurrection” and “re-establishment” of the AKP.
In the meantime Erdoğan has reshuffled the Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) of the AKP, with 19 members of the 50-seat board changed. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım became “acting chairman” of the MKYK.