The most lukewarm state of emergency in history


The National Security Council, meeting under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has decided to recommend to the government the extension of the State of Emergency for another three months. Is this a surprise to anyone?

The State of Emergency was declared after the failed blood coup of July 15. The coup was launched by soldiers affiliated to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which infiltrated every state office, the business community, the media and even the sporting arena. The coup plotters had used tanks, armored vehicles, attack helicopters and even F-16 fighters against the people who turned out to stop the coup attempt. They killed 241 people, wounded 2000 others. Most were civilians. It was the most vicious and blood coup attempt in Turkish history.

So it was only normal to declare a State of Emergency and deal with the coup plotters. Ever since then the state forces have been busy trying to weed out the Fethullah Gülen coup plotters and their affiliates. It has been a very painful process as authorities have laid off several state civil servants including thousands of teachers. Policemen and military personnel affiliated to this terrorist organization were arrested.

Yet the job is still far from done. There have been problems along the way as complaints have arisen that innocent people have been fired or sent to jail. President Erdoğan pointed to this in his speeches and asked authorities to review the cases and make an extra effort to ensure that justice is served. The process has become painful and sensitive and there are delays. Thus more time is needed to weed out the Fethullah militants in the state system and end the extraordinary situation. Hence the extension of State of Emergency.

However, this should hardly be a source of discomfort for the Turkish people. The State of Emergency is the most lukewarm extraordinary rule that we have witnessed in the past 50 years in Turkey. In the past after every coup or coup attempt the most brutal form of Martial Law was declared, people would be arrested in an arbitrary manner, some people would simply evaporate, there would be mystery killings. It would be a rule of fear with no respect for human rights and freedoms. The authorities would never opt for a State of Emergency as they would feel this is too soft and would not serve their authoritarian purposes.

In those days when the state decided to relax Martial Law they would declare a State of Emergency that would be a transition to normal civilian rule. But even then the rule of fear would continue. The state would harass its citizens and make life hell for the ordinary man in the street.

Is this the case in Turkey today? Not at all. The state is handling its citizens after the coup with the utmost sensitivity and compassion simply because the authorities are well aware that it was this nation that halted the coup and we all owe our presence today to these people.

Only those who participated in the coup, those who are affiliated to the Gülen mob, and those who support them that have much to fear. They were a part of a massive act of treason against the Turkish people and they will all pay.

However, the ordinary citizen has not felt any discomfort since the State of Emergency went into force. So if there are those who want to challenge the extension of the State of Emergency then we feel they do not mean well. They have to look back in history and see how State of Emergencies worked before and how it is functioning today.


*İLNUR ÇEVIK is a Turkish columnist. He writes for Daily Sabah Turkish newspaper.

(Published in Daily Sabah on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016)