Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his election ally, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli, have agreed to end an ongoing state of emergency on the condition that legislation is enacted allowing for a continuation of operations targeting the Gülen movement and terrorist organizations, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the two leaders met after their June 24 election victory in the presidential palace in Ankara to evaluate the implementation of a new presidential system and the state of emergency, which was declared on July 20, 2016 following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and was extended for the seventh time in April 2018.
Before the elections, Erdoğan had promised to end the state of emergency.
According to Cumhuriyet, Bahçeli opposes ending the state of emergency completely. The leaders agreed to enact legislation for continuing the fight against terrorist organizations as part of steps to lift the state of emergency.
MHP Vice Chairman Mustafa Kalaycı said in a TV appearance on Tuesday that the state of emergency should be extended as long as the threat posed by the Gülen movement has not been overcome and an offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq is continuing.
The state of emergency has granted President Erdoğan and his government extraordinary powers under which the government has pressed ahead with many controversial decrees that have the force of law and are not required to be approved by Parliament.
According to a European Commission report on April 17, “since the introduction of the state of emergency on July 20,2016, over 150 000 people were taken into custody, 78 000 were arrested and over 110 000 civil servants were dismissed” as part of witch hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding the attempted coup despite strong denials by the group of any involvement.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in 2017 said 234,419 passports had been revoked and that eight holdings and 1,020 companies had been seized as part of investigations into the movement since the failed coup.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High commissioner for human rights, in March called on the Turkish government to immediately lift the state of emergency to enable all of its citizens to participate fully and equally in the conduct of public affairs and to exercise their rights to vote and to stand for election without unreasonable restrictions.
In a March report on the situation of human rights in Turkey, the UN Human Rights Office expressed concerns that routine renewals of the state of emergency and the extensive use of emergency decrees had led to an erosion of the ability of civil society, the judiciary and the media to serve their essential watchdog roles in the country.