Last week’s failed coup saw the Turkish President fleeing his homeland, only to return triumphantly and announce a state of emergency that will see him wielding power however he sees fit
On the evening of Friday, 15th of July military vehicles flooded the streets of Turkey in an attempt to seize power from the elected Government. However, this attempted coup was stopped as Turkish people flooded the streets in support of their President, Tayyip Erdoğan. Around 250 people died in the attempted coup and by the time it was over on Saturday, 1,500 military personnel were arrested. Since then the Government has suspended, detained, or placed around 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers under investigation.
However, none of these measures have settled President Erdoğan’s doubts that the military coup is entirely over.
Last Wednesday he declared Turkey will be under a state of emergency for three months to avert the possibility of a second coup. This gives the Turkish Government the right to essentially perform various governmental actions without having to go through all the usual procedures of gaining permission for them. For instance, a state of emergency may include allowing for a suspension and waiver of certain rules and regulations, streamlining of state administrative procedures, and authority to expend funds and deploy personnel, equipment, stockpiles, and supplies. They have also suspended the European Convention on Human Rights, meaning that the Turkish Government will temporarily suspend its obligation to uphold certain human rights agreed upon through the European Convention. However, this suspension does not include the right to life and the prohibition of torture.
Though such a move has been done before, most notably by France after the recent terrorist attacks, it may jeopardize Turkey’s possibility of becoming an EU member in the future.
According to Al Jazeera: ‘Under a state of emergency in Turkey, the President can largely rule by decree. Curfews could be enforced, and gatherings and protests could be banned without official consent, under the declaration. Media could also be restricted, while security personnel could conduct searches of persons, vehicles or properties and confiscate potential evidence’.
Erdoğan’s interior ministry has claimed that the order will have no effect on civilians, but some worry that Turkey will return to the days of martial law which it experienced after a 1980 military coup, or the Kurdish insurgency in the 1990s.
After the recent terrorist attack in Paris by the radical Islamic group ISIS, on the 13th of November, French President François Hollande called for a state of emergency. Human Rights Watch reported that during this state of emergency people were interviewed, subjected to abusive searches or placed under house arrest. Furthermore: ‘Those targeted said the police burst into homes, restaurants, or mosques; broke people’s belongings; terrified children; and placed restrictions on people’s movements so severe that they lost income or suffered physically’.
Some worry that Turkey’s state of emergency will lead to similar rights abuses, and that President Erdoğan will use this as an opportunity to embrace a more authoritarian regime that he has been leaning towards.