Turkey ends two-year state of emergency

ISTANBUL • Turkey's state of emergency imposed after the failed 2016 coup came to an end yesterday, but the opposition fears it will be replaced by even more repressive legislative measures.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the state of emergency on July 20, 2016, five days after warplanes bombed Ankara and bloody clashes broke out in Istanbul in a doomed putsch bid that claimed 249 lives.

The measure, which normally lasts three months but was extended seven times, ended at 1am local time yesterday (6am Singapore time), the state-run Anadolu news agency said, after the government decided not to ask that it be extended for an eighth time.

The state of emergency saw the detention of some 80,000 people and about double that number sacked from jobs in public institutions.

The biggest purge of Turkey's modern history has targeted not just alleged supporters of Mr Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher blamed for the coup, but also Kurdish activists and leftists.

During last month's presidential election campaign, which he won, Mr Erdogan pledged that the state of emergency would end.

But the opposition has been angered by the government's submission of new legislation to Parliament that apparently seeks to formalise some of the harshest aspects of the emergency.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said the new measures , dubbed "anti-terror" legislation by pro-government media, would amount to a state of emergency on their own.

Under the proposed legislation, the authorities will retain for three more years the power to sack civil servants deemed linked to "terror" groups, retaining a key power of the state of emergency.

"They make it look like they are lifting the emergency but in fact they are continuing it," said the head of the CHP's parliamentary faction, Mr Ozgur Ozel.

Protests and gatherings will be banned in open public areas after sunset, although they can be authorised until midnight if they do not disturb the public order.

The local authorities will be able to prohibit individuals from entering or leaving a defined area for 15 days on security grounds. And a suspect can be held without charge for 48 hours or up to four days in the case of multiple offences.

Mr Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International's deputy Europe director, said many of the powers of the state of emergency will remain in force. "It (the lifting) needs to be accompanied by urgent measures if it is to be anything more than a cosmetic exercise," said Mr Filippou.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2018, with the headline 'Turkey ends two-year state of emergency'. Print Edition | Subscribe