Turkish Government Declares 3 Month State Of Emergency

Jul 20, 2016
Originally published on July 20, 2016 6:56 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Now to Turkey, a country that seemed like a rare case of democracy and stability in the Middle East and now looks like it is headed for a long period of crisis. The government today imposed a three-month state of emergency that will intensify the crackdown on dissent that's been happening since an attempted coup over the weekend. We're going to check in now with NPR's Peter Kenyon in Istanbul. Hi, there, Peter.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Hi, Kelly.

MCEVERS: So, first, what is the government saying about this state of emergency? Why are they imposing It?

KENYON: Well, we're just getting the broad outlines at the moment. It gives broad powers to security forces and the government. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says it's necessary to protect the rule of law and democracy. But he also made clear these would be used as extensively against the Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. That's a former ally now accused of fomenting this failed coup.

Erdogan basically said it will make everything more efficient - easier to round up people, try them, question them. There's about 10,000 accused of backing the coup and another 50,000 or more accused of supporting Gulen. So this will also allow more laws to be passed, so there could be new powers in the future that we don't know about yet. Constitution says this could last six months, which means this could be extended for another three if Erdogan wants to.

MCEVERS: Well, let's talk more a little bit about that rounding up of people. Is that still ongoing? And what is it looking like these days?

KENYON: Still ongoing and continuing. Erdogan told Al Jazeera English there were 9,004 people detained and nearly 20,000 arrested - that means charged by a court. And he said the interrogations are yielding more and more names, so we can expect this to continue.

And on the street, there's basically a lot of very worried Turks - anyone with views not aligned with keeping Erdogan a very low profile. But there's also a large segment of the population that's kind of proud they faced down a coup. There's been several in the past.

There was a big crowd at Taksim Square in Istanbul tonight. They fell very quiet as the speech began - stayed quiet - but at the end there was a round of applause. It's a deeply divided population. They're clinging at the moment to the one thing they hope they all share - a deep loathing of military governments.

MCEVERS: That's NPR's Peter Kenyon in Istanbul. Thanks a lot.

KENYON: Thanks, Kelly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.