Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has scolded former President Abdullah Gül for his call on the government to revise a new state of emergency decree that gives immunity to civilians who take part in thwarting coup and terror incidents, Hürriyet reported on Thursday.
According to Article 121 of decree No. 696, which was released on Dec. 24, regardless of an official title or duties or the lack thereof, people who played a role in the suppression of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and subsequent events and terrorist activities will be exempt from criminal liability.
“The ambiguity that does not comply with legal parlance in the text of state of emergency decree No. 696, which I think was released to protect the hero citizens who took to the streets to resist a traitorous coup attempt on July 15, is worrisome in terms of a state of law,” Gül said in a tweet.
“I hope to see its revision in order to avoid giving an opportunity to events and developments that could sadden all of us,” Gül added.
“It is sad to see that the former president talked about an ambiguity [concerning the decree]. Based on what do you talk about an ambiguity? Which article pushes you into this ambiguity? This is sad. The statement he made and retweets he received moved the process in a different direction,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists on his plane during an official visit to Africa.
Underlining that the justice minister and spokesperson of the government have given the requisite response to critics of the decree, Erdoğan said: “The legal regulation [the decree] is pretty clear. We are determined to continue with this new regulation as is. If it [the decree] is misinterpreted in the future, the necessary intervention will be made. Either Parliament or the judiciary will surely do what is needed in such a case.”
Despite a statement from AKP spokesperson Mahir Ünal on Monday that the new regulation would only be applied to the days of a coup attempt last year, July 15, 2016 and July 16, 2016, Burhan Kuzu, a member of the AKP Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) on Tuesday said it would be applied to new cases as well.
“With No. 696 we have given judicial immunity to civilians. To sum up: If a July 15-like coup attempt or a terror attack takes place, citizens who prevent this treason will be protected legally,” Kuzu tweeted.
Criticizing Republican People’s Party (CHP) reactions to the new decree Kuzu also said: “I wonder if you were readying for a July 15-like coup attempt and have been caught unawares?”
Hours later Kuzu deleted his first tweet.
Minister of Development Cevdet Yılmaz also said on Monday that the new regulation aims to strengthen the fight against terrorism.
“Citizens who do not have links to terrorism should not worry about it,” Yılmaz said, sendika.org reported.
The main opposition CHP on Monday slammed the government for the state of emergency decree issued on Sunday, saying it paves the way for armed civilian gangs in Turkey.
“Where do you find this sort of article? In fascist, military states, where states aim to frighten civilians with paramilitary forces. This is an article paving the way to the establishment of armed civilian gangs by the government, an article preparing a substructure for it,” said Bülent Tezcan, deputy chairman and spokesperson of the CHP, during a press conference.
“This article is a disguised amnesty. It says those who perpetrated such crimes in the past will be forgiven,” added Tezcan.
Reactions to the new decree that gives immunity and impunity to civilian violence in the context of the coup attempt and terrorist attacks are not limited to the CHP.
Kerem Altıparmak, a human rights lawyer from Ankara University, underlined in a tweet that with the new decree the worst human rights violations and all kinds of crimes have been legitimized under the cover of fighting terrorism. Recalling that the Turkish Constitutional Court has approved the government’s state of emergency decrees, Altıparmak called on victims and their relatives to go directly to European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
Human rights advocate Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu summarized the new decree in a tweet: “If you make an innocent protest and someone kills you, he may not be punished. What else could be done to show that the state of law has ended?”
“Erdogan regime has welcomed private participation in witch hunts against Erdogan enemies. Now pro-state vigilantism is formally legal,” tweeted Timur Kuran, a professor of economic and political development at Duke University.