Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Erdogan moves to authoritarianism as crackdown continues

Nizam Chemmad | July 21, 2016 4:38 pm Print
Prior to the coup, Erdogan government has shut or taken over several media houses which were critical of his rule. This has strengthened the view that the Turkish strongman had been preparing the pitch for absolute control


Hours after a state of Emergency was declared in Turkey, the Erdogan-led government arrested 32 judges and two military officers on Thursday in connection with last week’s  botched military coup.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of Emergency lasting three months on Wednesday , as part of tightening measures against the alleged plotters of foiled coup on last Friday.

While declaring the Emergency at the presidential palace in Ankara, Erdogan stated that “all the viruses within the armed forces will be cleansed,” within these three months.

“The purpose of the declaration of the state of Emergency is, in fact, to be able to take the most efficient steps in order to remove this threat as soon as possible, which is a threat to democracy, to the rule of law and to the rights and freedoms of the citizens in our country,” Erdogan said.

Speaking on national television, the Turkish president claimed that Emergency is not at all a threat to democracy.


“It is very similar to a cancer. It is like a metastasis that is going on in the body that is Turkey. And we will clean it out,” he said emphasizing on rooting out the Gulen movement from the country.

He also made it clear that army will be under the command of the governors.

While talking on television, he also lauded Turkish citizens “who came together as one” to thwart the attempted coup carried out by a faction of national army.

246 people had died and 1,536 were wounded on Friday while trying to fight the coup attempters.

The Turkish president had on Wednesday called US Secretary of State John Kerry to demand the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who now lives in Pennsylvania in a self-imposed exile.

Erdogan and his AK party had held the cleric responsible for allegedly masterminding the attempted coup.

However, the Erdogan government has not been able to produce any valid evidence so far to prove Gulen’s role in the failed coup.


Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen

Kerry, according to the sources, had asked for solid evidence for Gulen to be extradited.

US president Barack Obama in a telephonic conversation with Erdogan on Tuesday had also demanded proof to extradite Gulen from US.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government as part of cracking down over people who believed to have connection with the Gulen movement, sacked or suspended more than 60,000 civil servants till the time of writing this.

Ali Yazici, the chief military aide of Erdogan  has been remanded  in custody by an Ankara court , for his alleged links to the attempted coup.


Chief military aide of Erdogan Ali Yazici

 The authorities have closed 600 schools run by admirers of Fethullah Gulen.

On Wednesday, 99 top military officers were charged in connection with the foiled putsch.

The state administration has suspended 8,777 Interior Ministry personnel, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

21,738 teachers were suspended and 2,745 prosecutors have been named for arrest.

The state has also directed 1,577 university deans to leave their position.

24 radio and television companies which are allegedly run by Gulen sympathizers have also been shut.

The AK Party government had taken over many prominent media groups like Ipek Koza group for its alleged connections with the movement, last October.

Muzzling the dissent raising against his autocracy, Erdogan had also closed/ took over significant newspaper Zaman, News Agency Cihan, and Telivision channel Bugun.

The critics say that Erodgan shut all  media critical  of his regime, before the coup to stop flow of information.

The government on Wednesday has also blocked the well-known website WikiLeaks from Turkey, for disclosing around 300,000 emails sent from Turkish authorities, including Erdogan’s office.

The officials clarified that it was blocked for “violation of privacy and publication of illegally obtained data,” a CNN report said.

The website authority has said that WikiLeaks portal had been the target of a massive cyber-attack, after it had revealed multiple significant documents regarding “Turkish power.”

Meanwhile, after declaring Emergency, criticism is mounting against the authoritarianism of Erdogan in Turkey.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier prompted Ankara to keep a balance between rule of law and sense of proportionality.

He stated that only provable involvement in illegal acts, not suspected political leanings, should trigger governmental action.

Earlier on Tuesday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has voiced his concerns in the act of mass suspending prosecutors in Turkey.

He urged the Turkish authorities to allow an independent monitor to examine the cases of those detained.

Many international figures have also come forward voicing their concern at AK party leadership’s move to restore death penalty in the country.

This being the case, Erdogan has put the decision of bringing back capital punishment on pending.


Men arrested in connection with the attempted coup                                                                      Courtesy: CNN

Amid the continuing witch-hunt against his followers, Gulen said in a statement released Tuesday: “Erdogan once again demonstrated he will go to any length necessary to solidify his power and persecute his critics.”

“It is ridiculous, irresponsible and false to suggest I had anything to do with the horrific failed coup,” he said.

He also urged the US government to hold an investigation against him and make the decision of extradition based upon it.