'Growing global alarm' over Turkey crackdown

But thousands come out to back Erdogan at home as the President blasts critics

ISTANBUL • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday faced growing criticism from the European Union over an "unacceptable" crackdown that has seen tens of thousands of people detained or sacked. But at home, Mr Erdogan basked in the support of jubilant crowds who took to the streets of Istanbul overnight.

Huge numbers were again expected to fill city squares yesterday to celebrate Mr Erdogan's victory over the rebels, whose botched coup last Friday with troops, tanks and fighter jets claimed 265 lives.

There has been growing global alarm over the extent of legal retribution following the failed coup, with some 50,000 alleged sympathisers in state offices losing their jobs and more than 10,000 suspects detained.

The Turkish leader has fired back at critics of the government actions, telling France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault - who had warned Mr Erdogan not to use the failed coup as carte blanche to silence his opponents - to "mind his own business".

"If he wants a lesson in democracy, he can very easily get a lesson in democracy from us," Mr Erdogan told Al-Jazeera.

Mr Erdogan has indicated that the death penalty may need to be brought back, citing frequent demands from ordinary citizens at political rallies after the failed coup.

TWO BAD OUTCOMES

Society has been forced to choose between a coup and an undemocratic government.

PEOPLES' DEMOCRATIC PARTY, on Mr Erdogan's recent crackdowns.

EU officials have said that bringing back the death penalty would effectively put an end to Turkey's bid to join the bloc.

The President has said July 15, the day of the failed coup attempt, would in future be marked as the "Remembrance Day of the Martyrs". On Thursday, thousands of Mr Erdogan's supporters - many carrying lit torches and waving the national flag - streamed across the Bosphorus bridge that was one of the key battlegrounds.

Flocking to the landmark where Turkish citizens stood up to the mutineers, they brandished signs, such as, "Our flag, our nation," and denounced the man Mr Erdogan blames for the coup plot - US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, 75.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said yesterday the United States does not need to take years to extradite Mr Gulen.

Washington has said Ankara must first provide clear evidence of Mr Gulen's involvement in the attempted coup and lawyers have said any extradition process could take years. "If you want to draw out the Gulen extradition issue, it can take years, but if you are decisive it can be completed in a short period," Mr Cavusoglu told state broadcaster TRT Haber.

Mr Erdogan has repeatedly rallied citizens - on TV and even with mass phone text messages - to stay on the streets in the fight against the "terrorist" followers of the spiritual leader whom he accuses of forming a secretive "parallel state".

Late on Wednesday, after a marathon meeting of his national security council, Mr Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency - Turkey's first since 2002, the year before he first came to power as prime minister. Turkey also said it would suspend parts of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The road to arbitrary rule, unlawful behaviour, feeding on violence, has been chosen," charged the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party. "Society has been forced to choose between a coup and an undemocratic government."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2016, with the headline ''Growing global alarm' over Turkey crackdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe