ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Ankara will extend a state of emergency, in place since the July 2016 coup attempt, for another three months, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Monday.
In a press conference following a cabinet meeting, Bozdag said the National Security Council (MGK), headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and army generals, would discuss the matter during its first meeting of the new year.
Then, Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is expected to propose a motion for the extension at the Parliament.
Lawmakers from the AKP and its far-right ally in the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have supported previous extensions.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who view Erdogan as an increasingly authoritarian leader, have opposed the emergency rule.
HDP Spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen told reporters in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir that Turkey was either to “choose the state of emergency or democracy.”
“Turkey is about to lose its claim to being a democracy,” Bilgen said, adding that a significant portion of the state was a victim of the nation-wide rule.
The Erdogan government’s main argument for the state of emergency is its fight with the US-based Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement which it accuses of masterminding the botched coup via followers within the army.
Ankara also cites its security concerns regarding the decades-long guerrilla warfare by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for a form of self-governance in the Kurdish-majority provinces to the east and south.
Under a state of emergency, the President, empowered by a constitutional reform package narrowly approved by voters in a referendum last April, can bypass the Parliament in enacting new decrees.
The decrees have since last year purged over 100,000 civil servants and ordered the closure of hundreds of media outlets, NGOs, cultural centers, private schools, and hospitals over allegations of having ties to “terrorist” groups detrimental to national security.
There are also over 160 journalists, and media workers behind bars as co-leader of the HDP Selahattin Demirtas remains jailed along with nine other lawmakers from his party.
The Council of Europe (CoE), and international rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have previously called on Ankara to end the state of emergency, citing grave rights violations, including allegations of torture in prisons and abuses of state power by officials.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany