Massive crackdown after coup attempt in Turkey causes concern

Sunday 24/07/2016
Crackdown is unlikely to let up soon

ISTANBUL - The Turkish government’s campaign to purge the military and key state in­stitutions following the failed coup attempt has drawn concern from the country’s allies and human rights groups.
Tens of thousands of soldiers, police officers, judges, prosecutors, teachers, academics and govern­ment officials have been detained or fired. According to Yasin Aktay, deputy chairman of the ruling Jus­tice and Development Party (AKP), 10,410 people have been detained since the coup on July 15th, 7,423 of whom are military personnel and 2,014 are either judges or pros­ecutors.
More detentions and arrests were expected as Turkish Presi­dent Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “eradicate the virus” of what he calls “the parallel state structure” — a shadowy network of supporters linked to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen that has allegedly exerted significant control over crucial state institutions.
Erdogan accused Gulen of pull­ing the strings of coup plotters and orchestrating the violent attempt­ed takeover that left at least 265 people dead and more than 1,000 wounded. The Turkish govern­ment has formally requested the cleric’s extradition from the United States.
Erdogan’s campaign against Gu­len, previously a key ally of his conservative Islamic ruling party, dates to a major corruption scandal in December 2013 that implicated the government, Erdogan’s closest associates and his family. Erdogan responded ferociously to the al­legations, purging the police of thousands of officers, transferring prosecutors linked to the investi­gation and tightening control over the judiciary.
After the failed military takeo­ver, he is taking on the army. By July 22nd, almost 7,500 military personnel had been detained, in­cluding 118 of Turkey’s 358 gener­als and admirals. An Istanbul court even ordered the arrest of 62 cadets — aged 14-17 — at a military high school.
Authorities moved to shut down media outlets allegedly linked to Gulen; at least 34 journalists had their government-issued press cards revoked.
Several academics who had signed a January petition criticis­ing the government for its brutal crackdown on Kurds have been suspended in the city of Van. Police also took prominent human rights lawyer and commentator Orhan Kemal Cengiz into custody.
The crackdown is unlikely to let up soon. Following a July 20th meeting of the National Security Council and the cabinet, Erdogan announced a three-month state of emergency for the entire country, leading to concerns among West­ern allies and human rights groups. The president has hinted it might be extended by another three months “if necessary”.
Amnesty International warned in a statement that emergency meas­ures taken because of the coup attempt must remain within the framework of international human rights standards.
“In the wake of the violence sur­rounding the attempted coup, tak­ing measures prioritising public security is understandable,” said Andrew Gardner, Turkey research­er for the group, “but emergency measures must respect Turkey’s obligations under international law, should not discard hard-won freedoms and human rights safe­guards and must not become per­manent.”