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1ST LEAD Turkish parliament extends state of emergency through April By Ergin Hava and Mirjam Schmitt, dpa

Europe
18.01.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Istanbul (dpa) - Turkey‘s lawmakers voted on Thursday to extend the country‘s state of emergency - put in place days after the July 15, 2016, coup attempt - for a sixth time, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

That would keep the state of emergency in place through April 19

The three-month extension was approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s Islamic-conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP), which dominates the house, and the ultra-nationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The move had been recommended by cabinet and the security council on Wednesday.

Opposition parties and human rights activists have long called for an end to the state of emergency, which grants the government wide-ranging powers, allowing it to rule by decree and carry out mass arrests and purges.

Late on Wednesday, government spokesman Bekir Bozdag cited "threats facing our country" as a reason for the extension. He also referred to what he called an ongoing fight against terrorist groups.

Amnesty International‘s Turkey expert, Andrew Gardner, argued that the state of emergency had been "abused to silence legitimate dissent."

"It was not about threats to national security, it was about criticism of the government," he told dpa.

The spokesman for the pro-Kurdish Peoples‘ Democratic Party (HDP), Ayhan Bilgen, also criticized the move, adding that there is no evidence for further terrorist threats.

The government blames the failed 2016 coup on a US-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, and says the purges target his followers. Gulen denies all charges.

Around 150,000 people have been purged from their jobs in the public sector and military under emergency decrees. More than 50,000 people are in jail on allegations of having links to Gulen.

The crackdown also targets opponents of the government, including Kurdish activists, human rights groups and journalists.

 

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