By Zachary Lucas
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
ANKARA, Turkey — Following a failed military coup, the Turkish government has arrested thousands of officials across all levels of society for suspected involvement. Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, stated that reinstating the death sentence was possible for suspected “plotters.”
After the attempted coup was thwarted last Saturday morning, the Turkish government has arrested or detained more than 10,000 military personnel. A portion of those arrested were soldiers directly involved in the failed coup. This has also included 118 generals and admirals.
Along with the military more than 50,000 civil service officials have been arrested, detained, fired, or suspended. Directly following the coup, approximately 3,000 judges and prosecutors were detained or fired. Another 9,000 Ministry of Interior personnel have been suspended. This purge has also reached the education sector with 21,000 teachers having their licenses revoked and 1,500 deans being asked to resign. Multiple broadcasting stations have also had their licenses revoked.
President Erdogan has vowed to punish all responsible for the failed military coup and wouldn’t rule out the death penalty. The death penalty was abolished in 2004 as Turkey made a bid to join the European Union. President Erdogan said if the people wanted the death penalty to return and the Turkish Parliament passed the legislation, then he would uphold the will of the people.
President Erdogan also imposed a three month state of emergency. He said the purpose of the state of emergency was to restore order and capture and punish all involved in the coup. Under the Turkish Constitution, Erdogan would gain the powers to suspend fundamental rights of freedom so long as it doesn’t violate international law. The Turkish government is also going to suspend its participation in the European Convention of Human Rights.
Many within Turkey and around the world have expressed concern with the purge arguing that Erdogan is using the coup as a way to eliminate opposition and consolidate power. A local chef at a restaurant in Istanbul, said Erodgan is setting a trap and will use the coup as a way to gain more power. The United States of America has expressed concern with the expansiveness of the purge particularly against non-military officials. America called on Turkey to preserve the rule of law and democracy. The European Union has stated that if the death penalty were to return, then Turkey would not be allowed to join the European Union.
Erdogan was elected to President in 2014. After winning 52 percent of the vote many argued election fraud. Shortly after the election, Erdogan attempted controversial constitutional amendments to give more powers to the president. Some have argued the purge of the judicial officials after the coup was to replace them with supporters of his constitutional changes.
The attempted coup occurred early last Saturday morning with a faction of the military blocking bridges leading to Istanbul. President Erdogan called on the people to fight off the coup. Later Saturday morning the coup had been defeated with the soldiers involved laying down arms and surrendering. The coup left 300 people dead and more than 1,000 wounded.
Turkey has had multiple military coups it it’s brief history as a country. There were successful military coups occurring in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. The political divide within Turkey pits the secular and western military class against an increasingly conservative and popularly elected Islamist political parties in the country such as President Erdogan’s party, Justice and Development Party.
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