July 21, 2016

To the Press and Public Opinion


No democratic links can be established between the TIMES of EMERGENCY we are living in today, and the “STATE of EMERGENCY LAW” dated October 27, 1983 which was enacted by the Bulend Ulusu Government during the military coup of 12 September, with aim at consolidating the junta rule of that period.

Advancing the fundamental rights and freedoms to realise democratization can prevent the military coups, not promulgation of state of emergency. 

Following the meetings of the National Security Council and the cabinet on July 20, 2016, President Erdogan declared a state of emergency covering the entire Turkey, for three months. This entirety clause is the first time for the Turkey’s recent past. The decision is published in the official gazette on July 21, 2016.

In Turkey’s recent past, the partial application of the martial law began on November 1978; became permanent with the military coup of 12 September 1980; and lasted until July 19, 1987. From this date onwards, the practices of the emergency state that concerns several cities in the Eastern and South-eastern Turkey were protracted 46 times to last until November 30, 2002. Briefly, for 24 years the people of Turkey have lived under the martial law/state of emergency that restricted/suspended the fundamental rights and freedoms in the entire country or in a part of it.  This is a quite rare situation in the World.

To a great extent, the practices of state of emergency have become partial during Ecevit government. Ultimately, the state of emergency in the two cities (Diyarbakir and Sirnak) has not been prolonged and hence, terminated on November 30, 2002 during the Justice and Development Party government.

As the Human Rights Association and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, in the recent days we have several times underlined that;

YES, there has been a coup attempt in our country,

YES, we are, absolutely and without any ‘but’s, against all coups and coup attempts, which mean termination of democratic rule and severe violations of fundamental rights,

YES, the crime committed by the plotters of the latest coup is a crime against humanity,

YES, concerning these plotters, all the necessary legal processes, as defined in the Constitution of Turkey and legal codes should be carried out; they should be tried fairly, and punished as foreseen by laws,

YES, we are living under in the times  of emergency.

Having said that, a conceptual distinction is of vital importance. The “State of Emergency Law” enacted on October 27, 1983 by the Bulend Ulusu Government during the period of 12 September military coup provides the legal basis of the current ‘state of emergency’ (despite certain modifications until 1992). Despite the commonality of the terminology utilized, there are no connections between the ‘extraordinary’ circumstances we are living in today, and the “State of Emergency Law” that enforced the 12 September military coup mentality. The coup attempts and their repercussions cannot be eliminated by laws that reflect or the military coup mentality. On the contrary, such practices consolidate the military coup mentality.

That is because with the implementation of the concerned law;

  • the Government will issue decrees having force of law, and immune from judicial control, and thus, will completely disable the legislative power (the Grand National Assembly of Turkey), which has already been severely eroded;
  • fundamental rights and freedoms such as freedom of travel, right to education, work, information, communication, and immunity of residence, will be restricted or completely suspended by practices such as declaration of curfew being in the first place; and the authority of the law enforcement forces to use arms will become almost unlimited;
  • the democratic principles such as the rule of law, judicial independence, separation of powers, and respect of human rights, which have been seriously violated by the current Government in the recent period will be further demolished.

For this reason, in a period where the coup attempt is suppressed, massive arrests and detentions take place, and thousands of public servants are dismissed and investigated; we regard the declaration of a state of emergency to cover the entire country and to last for 3 months, as an anti-democratic practice that will suppress all segments of the society, and that will make the authoritarian tendency permanent. This situation suggests that the de facto presidential model will take a legal form with the state of emergency law, and that the parliamentarian system will be further damaged, and rendered completely ineffective.

We would like to also underline that the restrictions of the fundamental rights and freedoms might lead to new tensions and social conflicts.

On the other hand, the incidents of rights violations during the periods of emergency state in Turkey’s recent past have shown us that the guarantees under Article 15, Clause 2 of the Constitution of Turkey is not respected. The periods of administration under state of emergency have already been recorded as the times when violations of rights and freedoms were dramatically increased. Furthermore, with the legislation and practices it brings, and the culture it creates –particularly among the circles of the military and public authorities- the administration under state of emergency adversely affects the transition to so called ordinary times of administration.

It should be beard in mind that under any circumstances, the right to life and the integrity of physical and moral existence are inviolable in other words the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment should be maintained; freedom of religion, liberty of consciousness, and freedom of opinion should be guaranteed; and presumption of innocence should be respected. Criminal law cannot be applied retrospectively; hence, the discussions around the death penalty are unreasonable.

 As we have expressed before, “the chaotic atmosphere, in which Turkey is living today is directly related to the inability to bring viable solutions to democratic problems, and to the violations of rights. The inefficiency of the Government to put into practice the principles of pluralism, transparency, and participation; disregard of the fundamental rights and freedoms and rule of law; adoption of policies based on violence, rather than democratic and peaceful methods, against the Kurdish problem; implementation of anti-democratic laws such as law of impunity for the military members; and conduct of war inside and outside the country; have brought about a deep political and state crisis.”

Therefore, the only way out from the times of emergency we are living in today is to uncompromisingly defend rule of law, democracy, and the respect to human rights.

Turkey can only end the chaos by developing peace politics both inside and outside the country, by re-launching the peace and resolution process, and by enhancing the space for democratic politics. We do not want to see the old state of emergency practices. We would like to stress out that the state of emergency should be terminated in the soonest time.

Instead of insisting to employ the authorities mentioned in the “State of Emergence Law” and of affirming that these will “target the organization and structures that plotted the coup, and carried out the attempt”, the Government should abrogate this law enacted on 1983, directly by the military coup rule, in order to consolidate the military coup mentality. We would like to remind the urgent need for regulations that will enable coping with the current times of emergency, in line with the obligations under the international law.



Human Rights Association

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey