On August 27, during an interview for CNN Turk, the leader of Turkey’s largest opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said that the AKP government went too far in post-coup measures.
CHP Chief Kilicdaroglu suggested that the government is “going too far” in implementing the powers that were granted to it by the declared three-month long state of emergency.
The July 15 military coup attempt resulted in a three-month long state of emergency declared by the Turkish government and President Erdogan as an attempt to purge the state institutions of all those involved in the coup. However, while all four parliamentary parties condemned the coup attempt, they differed on the managing the post-coup crisis and the proposed government measures.
The direct result of the three-month long state of emergency was government crackdowns of all state, civil, and non-government institutions suspected of ties with the Gulen Movement, which has been accused of masterminding the coup attempt. Outcomes of the government crackdowns were suspensions and arrests of civil servants, closures of schools, media houses, and businesses.
Notwithstanding, Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), was against the “state of emergency” from the start, warning the government “not to turn it into a witch hunt”.
Government’s Actions Against Civil Servants Shouldn’t Make a New Category of victims
During yesterday’s interview with CNN Turk, CHP Chief Kilicdaroglu accused the AKP government of opportunism during the post-coup measures.
“I remember the military coups of March 12th, 1971, and September 12th, 1980; there was polarization and conflict, but not even this many people were arrested in either of those coups. Trade unions were not closed down, but now they are rapidly closing trade unions,” Kilicdaroglu said.
On August 10th, Turkish Interior Minister Ala publicly stated the details of post-coup government measures. According to Ala, over 76,000 civil servants were suspended, and over 16,000 people were arrested under charges of ties with the Gulen Movement.
Kilicadaroglu warned the government that its actions against civil servants and Turkish citizens must not create a new category of “victims”.
“In principle, we are against silencing the media,” — Kilicdaroglu
Over 100 media organizations were shut down by a government’s decree that was issued on July 27th. All of the closed media organizations were charged with supporting a terrorist organization, meaning the Gulen Movement. ( The Gulen Movement is also called FETO/PDY, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – PKK).
Kilicdaroglu commented on the issue, explaining that media houses who are praising terrorism are unacceptable, but in principle, CHP is against silencing the press. “If a newspaper is to be closed, it should be done through the courts”, the CHP chief added.
Discussing the issue of the government’s crackdown of media organizations, Kilicdaroglu referenced the closure of Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish publication which was targeted by the AKP government even before the coup, for allegedly supporting the PKK and “disseminating terrorist propaganda”. Many renowned journalists, academics, and activists were arrested for collaborating with Ozgur Gundem, including Erol Onderoglu, who was arrested on June 20th.
Kilicdaroglu criticized the closure of Ozgur Gundem, saying the closure should have been ordered by the court and not the government decree.
Related to the Ozgur Gundem issue is the case of Asli Erdogan, an appraised and renowned writer who worked as a columnist for the previously-mentioned pro-Kurdish publication; Asli was taken into custody on August 16th during a police raid on Ozgur Gundem. She was jailed for a pre-trial detention on August 20th. Kilicdaroglu commented on the case of Asli Erdogan, criticizing her pre-trial arrest and saying she should not have been arrested.
“She just expressed her thoughts. Journalists and artists can be put on trial for crimes committed, but you will fail to explain it to the modern world if you impose a pre-trial arrest on them”, Kilicdaroglu added.
Based in Bosnia and Herzegovina. BA in political science. Columnist