In the aftermath of the failed Jul. 15-16 coup attempt, on Jul. 20 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency. -- With his new powers he promised to purge the military of the "virus" of subversion and will certainly extend the crackdown on political opponents that has already been underway for several days. -- The secular education establishment is one of his chief targets. -- "Turkey also said it would close more than 600 private schools and dormitories following the attempted coup, spurring fears that the state's move against perceived enemies is undermining key institutions in the country," the Associated Press said. -- "Erdogan's government said it has fired nearly 22,000 education ministry workers, mostly teachers, taken steps to revoke the licenses of 21,000 other teachers at private schools, and sacked or detained half a dozen university presidents. . . . 50,000 civil service employees have been fired in the purges, which have reached Turkey's national intelligence service and the prime minister's office," and "9,000 people -- including 115 generals, 350 officers, 4,800 other military personnel, and 60 military high school students -- [have been rounded up] for alleged involvement in the coup attempt." -- (It is worth nothing that before the coup the number of of people in Turkish prisons, whose fearsomeness is notorious, had already tripled in the decade Erdogan has been in power, from about 58,000 to 158,000. -- In 2012, the film "F-Type" called attention to the harsh conditions in Turkish prisons, taking its name from the special prisons that house many political prisoners.) -- Reuters reported Wednesday that "Academics were banned from traveling abroad on Wednesday in what a Turkish official said was a temporary measure to prevent the risk of alleged coup plotters in universities from fleeing." -- "Erdogan's spokesman said on Tuesday the government was preparing a formal request to the United States for the extradition of Gulen," Asli Kandemir and Gareth Jones said. -- "U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the status of Gulen in a telephone call with Erdogan on Tuesday, the White House said, urging Ankara to show restraint as it pursues those responsible for the failed coup." ...
TURKEY DECLARES 3-MONTH STATE OF EMERGENCY AFTER FAILED COUP
July 20, 2016
ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey's president on Wednesday declared a three-month state of emergency following a botched coup attempt, declaring he would rid the military of the "virus" of subversion and giving the government sweeping powers to expand a crackdown that has already included mass arrests and the closure of hundreds of schools.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was accused of autocratic conduct before the insurrection, said the measure would counter threats to Turkish democracy. Possibly anticipating investor jitters, Erdogan criticized Standard & Poor's for downgrading its credit rating for Turkey deeper into "junk" status and said the country would remain financially disciplined.
The president did not announce details, but the security measure could facilitate longer detentions for many of the nearly 10,000 people who have been rounded up since loyalist security forces and protesters quashed the rebellion that started Friday night and was over by Saturday.
"This measure is in no way against democracy, the law, and freedoms," Erdogan said in a national televised address after a meeting with Cabinet ministers and security advisers.
The state of emergency announcement needs to be published in a state gazette and lawmakers have to approve it for it to take effect, according to analysts.
Turkey imposed emergency rule in the southeast of Turkey in 1987, allowing officials to set curfews, issue search and arrest warrants and restrict gatherings as the security forces fought Kurdish rebels. The emergency rule was gradually lifted by 2002.
The president suggested military purges would continue.
"As the commander in chief, I will also attend to it so that all the viruses within the armed forces will be cleansed," Erdogan said.
In an apparent attempt to calm fears that the military's powers will be increased, the president said the military will be under the government-appointed governors' command and work closely with the regional governors.
The pro-government death toll in the botched coup was 246. At least 24 coup plotters were also killed.
Turkey also said it would close more than 600 private schools and dormitories following the attempted coup, spurring fears that the state's move against perceived enemies is undermining key institutions in the country.
Erdogan's government said it has fired nearly 22,000 education ministry workers, mostly teachers, taken steps to revoke the licenses of 21,000 other teachers at private schools and sacked or detained half a dozen university presidents in a campaign to root out alleged supporters of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric blamed for the failed insurrection.
The targeting of education ties in with Erdogan's belief that the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whose followers run a network of schools worldwide, seeks to infiltrate the Turkish education system and other institutions in order to bend the country to his will. The cleric's movement, which espouses moderation and multi-faith harmony, says it is a scapegoat.
While Erdogan is seeking to consolidate the power of his elected government after the rebellion, his crackdown could further polarize a country that once enjoyed a reputation for relative stability in the turbulent Middle East region. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of the military, courts, and other institutions being purged.
"The fact that so many judges have been detained, never mind the workload at the courthouses, will render them inoperable," said Vildan Yirmibesoglu, a human rights lawyer.
The education ministry said it decided to close 626 private schools and other establishments under investigation for "crimes against the constitutional order and the running of that order," the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The agency said the schools are linked to Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan who lives in Pennsylvania and has denied accusations that he engineered the coup attempt.
Turkey has demanded Gulen's extradition from the United States. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Turkey must provide hard evidence that Gulen was behind the foiled coup, and that mere allegations of wrongdoing wouldn't suffice.
The two allies cooperate in the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State group, with American military planes flying missions from Turkey's Incirlik air base into neighboring Iraq and Syria.
Turkey's domestic situation is increasingly a concern as the crackdown widens. Huseyin Ozev, an education union leader in Istanbul, said state education workers who were reported to have been fired had not received notices and that employees were "waiting at home or on vacation, anxiously," to see if they had lost their jobs.
The fight against coup plotters "should not be turned into a witch hunt," Ozev said.
In other moves, Turkey demanded the resignations of 1,577 university deans and halted foreign assignments for state-employed academics. A total of 50,000 civil service employees have been fired in the purges, which have reached Turkey's national intelligence service and the prime minister's office.
The government has also revoked the press credentials of 34 journalists because of alleged ties to Gulen's movement, Turkish media reported.
Authorities have rounded up about 9,000 people -- including 115 generals, 350 officers, 4,800 other military personnel and 60 military high school students -- for alleged involvement in the coup attempt. Turkey's defense ministry has also sacked at least 262 military court judges and prosecutors, according to Turkish media reports.
Saban Ceylan, a taxi driver in Istanbul, said he expected his income to drop because of the state of emergency.
"Nothing is going to happen if I don't take money home during three months," Ceylan said. In a reference to the coup plotters, he said: "I just want this country to be rescued from those dishonorable people."
--Torchia reported from Istanbul. Associated Press writer Cinar Kiper in Istanbul contributed to this report.
TURKEY'S ERDOGAN DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY AFTER COUP BID
By Asli Kandemir and Gareth Jones
July 20, 2016
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as he widened a crackdown against thousands of members of the security forces, judiciary, civil service, and academia after a failed military coup.
Erdogan said the state of emergency, which would last three months, would allow his government to take swift and effective measures against supporters of the coup and was allowed under the constitution.
The state of emergency would go into force after it is published in Turkey's official gazette and would allow the president and cabinet to bypass parliament in passing new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms as they deem necessary.
Erdogan made the announcement during a live television broadcast in front of government ministers after a nearly five-hour meeting of the National Security Council.
"The aim of the declaration of the state of emergency is to be able to take fast and effective steps against this threat against democracy, the rule of law and rights and freedoms of our citizens," Erdogan said.
About 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended, detained or are under investigation since Friday's military coup attempt.
The failed putsch and the purge that followed have unsettled the country of 80 million, which borders Syria's chaos and is a Western ally against Islamic State.
Before announcing the state of emergency, Erdogan said the sweep was not yet over and that he believed foreign countries might have been involved in the attempt to overthrow him.
Speaking through an interpreter in an interview with broadcaster Al Jazeera, Erdogan dismissed suggestions that he was becoming authoritarian and that Turkish democracy was under threat.
"We will remain within a democratic parliamentary system. We will never step away from it," he said.
Academics were banned from traveling abroad on Wednesday in what a Turkish official said was a temporary measure to prevent the risk of alleged coup plotters in universities from fleeing. State TRT television said 95 academics had been removed from their posts at Istanbul University alone.
Erdogan blames a network of followers of a U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, for Friday night's attempted coup, in which more than 230 people were killed as soldiers commandeered fighter jets, military helicopters, and tanks to try to overthrow the government.
Erdogan, who has led Turkey as prime minister or president since 2003, has vowed to clean the "virus" responsible for the plot from all state institutions. The depth and scale of the purges have raised concern among Western allies that Erdogan is trying to suppress all dissent, and that opponents unconnected with the plot will be caught in the net.
The defense ministry is investigating all military judges and prosecutors, and has suspended 262 of them, broadcaster NTV reported, while 900 police officers in the capital Ankara were also suspended on Wednesday. The purge also extended to civil servants in the environment and sports ministries.
The threat of prolonged instability in a NATO member country, which had not seen a violent military coup for more than three decades, has shaken investors' confidence.
The lira fell to a record low after ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut Turkey's foreign currency credit rating, citing the fragmentation of the political landscape and saying it expected a period of heightened unpredictability. The Istanbul stock index is down 9.5 percent so far this week, its worst three-day performance since 2013.
Seeking to prevent damage to the economy, Erdogan said in his televised address that his government would not abandon fiscal discipline and that it was not facing liquidity problems.
MILITARY CHIEF REFUSED TO BACK COUP BID
Around 1,400 people were wounded as soldiers commandeered tanks, attack helicopters, and warplanes, strafing parliament and the intelligence headquarters and trying to seize the main airport and bridges in Istanbul on Friday night.
At the height of the abortive coup, the rebel pilots of two F-16 fighter jets had Erdogan's plane in their sights as he returned to Istanbul from a holiday on the coast. Erdogan said he was almost killed or captured by the mutineers.
Turkey's Western allies have expressed solidarity with the government over the coup attempt but have also voiced increasing alarm at the scale and swiftness of the response, urging it to adhere to democratic values.
On Tuesday, authorities shut media outlets deemed to be supportive of Gulen. More than 20,000 teachers and administrators have been suspended from the education ministry. One hundred intelligence officials, 492 people from the Religious Affairs Directorate, 257 at the prime minister's office and 300 at the energy ministry have been removed from duty.
Those moves come after the detention of more than 6,000 members of the armed forces, from foot soldiers to commanders, and the suspension of close to 3,000 judges and prosecutors. About 8,000 police officers, including in the capital Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul, have also been removed.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein voiced "serious alarm" on Tuesday at the mass suspension of judges and prosecutors and urged Turkey to allow independent monitors to visit those who have been detained.
TENSIONS WITH U.S.
Erdogan's spokesman said on Tuesday the government was preparing a formal request to the United States for the extradition of Gulen. U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the status of Gulen in a telephone call with Erdogan on Tuesday, the White House said, urging Ankara to show restraint as it pursues those responsible for the failed coup.
Gulen, 75, whose religious movement blends conservative Islamic values with a pro-Western outlook, lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania but has a network of supporters within Turkey. He has condemned the abortive coup and denied any role in it.
A former ally-turned critic of Erdogan, he suggested the president staged it as an excuse for a crackdown after a steady accumulation of control during 14 years in power.
Washington has said it would consider Gulen's extradition only if clear evidence was provided, prompting Prime Minister Yildirim to accuse the United States of double standards in its fight against terrorism.
Erdogan struck a more conciliatory note in his comments to Al Jazeera, saying he did not want to link the issue of U.S. use of Turkey's Incirlik airbase with Ankara's request for Gulen's extradition.
The airbase is key to the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State.
"We need to be more sensitive. Relations between our countries are based on interests, not feelings. We are strategic partners," Erdogan said.
Any extradition request would face legal and political hurdles in the United States. Even if approved by a judge, it would still have to go to Secretary of State John Kerry, who can consider non-legal factors, such as humanitarian arguments.
(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Gareth Jones, Can Sezer and David Dolan; Writing by Nick Tattersall, Philippa Fletcher, and Tom Brown; Editing by David Stamp, Peter Graff, Toni Reinhold)