Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Turkey emergency may be extended

Legislative powers granted after July coup bid required to combat threats against government, says President Erdogan.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York
Erdogan says the legislature is ill-prepared to handle the situation [Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]

Turkey’s state of emergency is set to be extended by another three months and could be in place for a year if required, according to the country’s president.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday the emergency laws was required to combat threats against the government, following a failed coup attempt in July.

Addressing a group of local administrators in the capital Ankara, Erdogan dismissed criticism over plans for Turkey to prolong the state of emergency, saying no one should determine a “calendar or road map” for Turkey.

Turkey approves three-month state of emergency after failed coup

“Wait, be patient. Even 12 months might not be enough,” he said.

The cabinet must still approve the move, but it is not expected to contradict Erdogan’s wishes.

His remarks came after the National Security Council recommended extending the country’s state of emergency, imposed for three months just after the coup attempt, which gives Erdogan and the government sweeping powers.

Turkish opposition parties have increasingly expressed concern, calling for the measures to end and demanding a return to parliamentary governance.

Erdogan says the legislative branch is ill-prepared to handle the country’s current situation.

The centre-left People’s Republican Party insists innocent people have been caught up in the purges since the coup attempt and accuses the government of overreach.

The government has used the emergency laws to issue decrees to close down institutions , including dozens of media outlets , and fire more than 50,000 civil servants and suspend tens of thousands more.

ANALYSIS: How could failed coup affect Kurdish peace process?

The government blames the coup on Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Turkish religious leader who denies the charges.

Turkey is demanding his extradition from the United States.Turkey has arrested 32,000 people since the failed coup attempt.

Besides Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP, only the far-right Nationalist Movement Party, the smallest party in parliament, supports the emergency laws.

Measures taken since July have targeted alleged supporters of Gulen but have also affected Kurdish media outlets and leaders.

Kurdish channels removed

Turkish media and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) reported that Turkey’s communications satellite operator Turksat removed several Kurdish-language channels from the air on Wednesday.

A member of the High Commission of TV and Radio announced that the channels, including Jiyan TV, Zarok TV, Hayatin Sesi TV, and Van TV, were shut down under the powers granted under the state of emergency.

Anger and frustration among Kurds as Turkey hits PKK

The HDP, in a statement published on Thursday, accused Erdogan’s ruling party the AKP of limiting free speech by shutting down these channels.

“This situation is not only against domestic law, but it is also against international agreements that were signed by Turkey in the past,” said the HDP.

Earlier this month, the Turkish government removed 24 mayors and sacked 28,000 teachers for suspected links to the outlawed  Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a major shake-up under the state of emergency laws.

The HDP, whose regional politicians were the among the chief targets of the move, denounced the reshuffle as a “coup”. 

In a statement, the HDP said the move was reminiscent of the military takeover in 1980 and “ignored the will of the voters”.

Erdogan has previously called for members of the HDP to face prosecution, accusing them of being the outlawed PKK’s political wing. 

READ MORE: Pro-Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Gundem shut down in Turkey

Turkey, the US and the European Union designate the PKK, an armed group that has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy since 1984, as a “terrorist organisation”.

The HDP, Turkish parliament’s third-biggest party, denies direct links with the PKK and says it promotes a negotiated end to the Kurdish conflict, which has claimed hundreds of lives since a peace process, once led by Erdogan and the AKP, collapsed in 2015.

The government has accused the PKK of  a series of attacks in the southeast of Turkey in recent weeks.

Inside Story – What’s behind Turkey’s renewed crackdown on Kurds?

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies