PM says controversial gov’t decree will not be revised

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Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yıldırım (L) walks with Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 27, 2017. Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout / Anadolu Agency

Amid growing reactions from opposition and human rights defenders, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Wednesday said they will not revise a new state of emergency decree that gives immunity to civilians who take part in thwarting coup and terror incidents, CNNTürk reported.

“No revision will be made. There is no problem in the wording of the decree,” said Yıldırım during a press conference at Esenboğa Airport in Ankara.

“Those are empty words,” Yıldırım added in response to a statement calling on the government to revise the decree, underlining that the decree aims to protect civilians who fought against coup plotters on July 15, 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.

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.

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,” Tezcan added.

Despite a statement from AKP spokesperson Mahir Ünal on Monday 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) on Tuesday 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 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.

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