Conflicting statements come from ruling party on civilian immunity

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Amid growing reactions from opposition and human rights defenders, conflicting statements came from ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) members on calls for the government to revise a new state of emergency decree that gives immunity to civilians who take part in thwarting coup and terror incidents.

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.

Despite a statement from AKP spokesperson Mahir Ünal that the new regulation would only be applied to the days of a coup attempt last year, July 15, 2016 and July 16, 2016, Burhan Kuzu, a member of the AKP Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) said it will be applied to new cases as well.

“With No. 696 we have given judicial immunity to civilians. To sum up: If a July 15-like coup attempt or a terror attack takes place, citizens who prevent this treason will be protected legally,” Kuzu tweeted.

Criticizing the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) reactions to the new decree Kuzu also said: “I wonder if you were readying for a July 15-like coup attempt and  have been caught unawares?”

Hours later Kuzu deleted his first tweet.

Minister of Development Cevdet Yılmaz also said on Monday that 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.

Former President Abdullah Gül on Monday called on the government to revise the new state of emergency decree.

“The ambiguity that does not comply with legal parlance in the text of state of emergency decree No. 696, which I think was released to protect the hero citizens who took to the streets to resist a traitorous coup attempt on July 15, is worrisome in terms of a state of law,” Gül said in a tweet.

“I hope to see its revision in order to avoid giving an opportunity to events and developments that could sadden all of us,” he added.

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