Helsinki Commission urges Erdoğan to end state of emergency

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President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the 9th D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation Summit in Istanbul, Turkey on October 20, 2017. TURKISH PRESIDENCY / YASIN BULBUL /

The four senior members of US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the Helsinki Commission, have called on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to lift post-coup emergency rule in Turkey, which has been in effect for 15 months.

The state of emergency was declared in July 2016 following an abortive coup in the country and has since then been extended five times.

Chairman Sen. Roger Wicker, Co-Chairman Rep. Chris Smith, Ranking Commissioner Sen. Ben Cardin and Ranking Commissioner Rep. Alcee Hastings said in a letter to Erdoğan on Oct 17 that the prolonged state of emergency has been undermining democratic institutions in Turkey.

“Last year, the Turkish people defeated a violent and illegal challenge to their democratic institutions; today, the 15-month-old state of emergency poses a different threat to these same institutions, particularly the judiciary. By facilitating sweeping purges with no evidentiary standards, the state of emergency has upended countless innocent lives and undercuts domestic and international confidence in Turkey’s rule of law.

“It is clear that terrorism charges under the state of emergency are also being manipulated to suppress the activism of a group of human rights defenders arrested in early July,” the commission said in the letter.

The letter was also signed by Helsinki Commissioners Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Thom Tillis, Rep. Roger Aderholt, Rep. Randy Hultgren, Rep. Gwen Moore and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. (Turkey Purge)

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