Critics Say Turkey’s New Emergency Decree Could Incite Vigilante Groups

Lawyers and politicians in Turkey are warning that a new emergency decree could incite violence, and encourage formation of vigilante groups.

Turkey’s main lawyers’ group, the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, says the decree is vaguely-worded and could lead to violence.

The new law, passed Sunday, grants immunity to civilians who acted to stop an attempted coup in July 2016. Previously, the government gave immunity to law enforcement and government officials who took actions to thwart the coup.

Turkey’s former president Abdullah Gul, a longtime ally of President Tayyip Erdogan also expressed concern about the measure, in a rare show of opposition. Gul said the law is “worrisome” and said it should be re-evaluated.

Also Monday, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party said it would appeal the decree at the constitutional court. Ivi Parti, a new opposition party, said the decree could provoke groups to attack opposition protesters, by alleging they are linked to the failed coup.

Turkey’s government has defended the emergency decree as a way to protect civilians who took to the streets to denounce the coup attempt from being punished for their actions.

The government blames the coup attempt on followers of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish-born cleric based in the United States and his movement, which it calls the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization.” Gulen denies any involvement.

President Erdogan’s government declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of the attempted coup and has arrested more than 50,000 people and fired more than 150,000 others for alleged links to Gulen.

Another decree passed Sunday dismissed 2,756 more public employees and reinstated 115 employees. Other decrees Sunday ordered Turkey’s defense procurement agency was to report to President Erdogan instead of the defense ministry and also closed 17 Turkish institutions, including two newspapers.



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