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Gov’t says immunity decree applies only to July 15-16, 2016

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Amid growing reactions that a new state of emergency decree threatens all opponents by giving immunity to civilians in coup and terror cases, the government said it will only be applied to the days of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and July 16, 2016.

According to Article 121 of decree No. 696, which was released on Sunday, regardless of an official title or duties or the lack thereof, people who played a role in the suppression of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and subsequent events and terrorist activities will be exempt from criminal liability.

“This regulation is about the coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016 and the morning of July 16,” Mahir Ünal, a spokesperson for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said at a press conference in Ankara on Monday.

“The expression ‘terrorist activities’ that was mentioned in the article is used because a coup attempt is a terrorist activity. It does not include other terrorist activities that took place later,” Ünal added.

Minister Yılmaz thinks differently

But contrary to Ünal’s message, Minister of Development Cevdet Yılmaz said the new regulation aims to strengthen the fight against terrorism.

“Citizens who do not have links to terrorism should not worry about it,” Yılmaz said, sendika.org reported.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Monday slammed the government for the state of emergency decree issued on Sunday, saying it paves the way for armed civilian gangs in Turkey.

“Where do you find this sort of article? In fascist, military states, where states aim to frighten civilians with paramilitary forces. This is an article paving the way to the establishment of armed civilian gangs by the government, an article preparing a substructure for it,” said Bülent Tezcan, deputy chairman and spokesperson of the CHP, during a press conference.

“This article is a disguised amnesty. It says those who perpetrated such a crime in the past will be forgiven,” added Tezcan.

Reactions to the new decree that gives immunity and impunity to civilian violence in the context of the coup attempt and terrorist attacks are not limited to the CHP.

Kerem Altıparmak, a human rights lawyer from Ankara University, underlined in a tweet that with the new decree the worst human rights violations and all kinds of crimes have been legitimized under the cover of fighting terrorism. Recalling that the Turkish Constitutional Court has approved the government’s state of emergency decrees, Altıparmak called on victims and their relatives to go directly to European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Human rights advocate Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu summarized the new decree in a tweet: “If you make an innocent protest and someone kills you, he may not be punished. What else could be done to show that the state of law has ended?”

“Erdogan regime has welcomed private participation in witch hunts against Erdogan enemies. Now pro-state vigilantism is formally legal,” tweeted Timur Kuran, a professor of economic and political development at Duke University.

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