Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has pushed and prodded the country’s Parliament to extend the State of Emergency for the seventh time as a means to protect the people from terrorism and the economy from disruptions due to work stoppages.
The Turkish parliament again voted to extend the President’s emergency powers for another three months. The State of Emergency started in July 2016 when a failed coup attempt led to the deaths of 300 people.
With his emergency powers, Erdogan and his government can enact new laws without the need to pass these through parliamentary approval. The emergency powers will also allow Erdogan to suspend civil rights and freedoms.
The business sector of Turkey has criticized the decision of Parliament to extend Erdogan’s emergency powers. Erdogan responded by saying that instead of criticizing him and the government, the business sector should thank them for keeping the economy afloat and the country safe:
“The State of Emergency only affects terrorists. Now it’s preventing labour strikes such as the Bursa strike which we stopped right away. It’s a struggle against terrorism.
“When our business people say the State of Emergency should be lifted, it upsets us. We will continue to extend it for the peace of our country, yes we will, for the tenth time if necessary.”
In early 2018, workers in the North Western city of Bursa were planning to go on strike but were stopped immediately by Erdogan’s government forces. Bursa is Turkey’s center for auto-manufacturing.
One of the stern provisions of Erdogan’s emergency powers is that he could authorize the government to shut down strikes, protests and other methods of civil disobedience.
The United Nations has strongly criticized the extension of Erdogan’s emergency powers. According to the UN, there have been reports of “massive and serious” human rights violations in South Eastern Turkey which is predominantly a Kurdish community. Some of the reports indicate acts of torture and killings.
Turkey has denied the reports and said the emergency powers are a necessary to maintain peace and order in the country.
Erdogan likewise declared snap elections for the presidency and the Parliament this June. Opposition parties did not like the decision as moving it one year earlier will not give them enough time to prepare.
The United States has also raised concerns over Turkey’s capability to hold honest and fair elections at a time of the emergency rule.