Turkey’s President Recommends Extending State Of Emergency

September 29, 2016

Turkey’s national security council is recommending a three-month extension of the state of emergency imposed following a failed coup attempt in July.

The council is chaired by the Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has presided over tens of thousands of dismissals and arrests of opposition leaders, journalists and others since the initial state of emergency went into effect on July 20, NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports.

He reports for NPR’s Newscast unit: “When the state of emergency was imposed after the coup was put down, officials said they hoped it would be a one-time, three-month override of the protections in Turkey’s constitution,” but that “critics say the emergency powers have been used not just to go after coup plotters, but to silence dissenting voices and enact measures Erdogan’s party was unable to get through parliament previously.”

Erdogan also declared that July 15, the day of the failed coup, would be recognized as a national day of “democracy and freedom.”

Speaking to a group of provincial leaders in Ankara, Erdogan said: “It would be in Turkey’s benefit to extend the state of emergency for three months. They say one year isn’t right for Turkey. Let’s wait and see, maybe 12 months won’t be enough,” according to Reuters.

As Peter has reported, the attempted coup has strained the already-complicated relationship between the U.S. and Turkey. The Turkish government blames the uprising on an aging cleric who lives in Pennsylvania. “America watched with dismay as the Turkish government, which it once hailed as a democratic model, arrested thousands, sacked tens of thousands more from their jobs and squashed dissent,” Peter says.

In August, Vice President Biden denied any U.S. involvement in the coup and reiterated American support for Turkey’s government during a trip to the country, calling the U.S. relationship with Turkey a model partnership. The two countries are working together to fight the Islamic State, and the U.S. Air Force has long operated out of Incirlik Air Base near the Syrian border.

But the U.S. State Department has expressed concern about the suspension of constitutional rights under the state of emergency. Last month, spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said at a press conference:

“We urge Turkey to abide by its constitutional commitment to fundamental principles such as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, due process, judicial independence. These are key parts of any healthy democracy and a key part of Turkey’s own constitution.”

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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