Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday declared a nationwide state of emergency for at least three months after last week’s failed military coup that left hundreds dead.
“The aim is to rapidly and effectively take all steps needed to eliminate the threat against democracy, the rule of law and the people’s rights and freedoms,” Erdogan said at a press conference in Ankara.
The president added that the state of emergency aims to protect and strengthen the laws and freedoms of the country’s democracy, not threaten it. Some analysts have argued that the state of emergency could be used by Erdogan to further tighten his grip on power, and to extend it indefinitely.
Erdogan also implied during Wednesday’s speech that the purge of state employees will continue within the military. “As the commander in chief, I will also attend to it so that all the viruses within the armed forces will be cleansed,” Erdogan said.
Nearly 100 admirals and generals have been charged and about 60,000 state employees have been suspended, detained or forced to resign from their jobs since Friday’s coup attempt. This includes 22,000 people who work for the ministry of education.
As part of the measures, the ministry of education has closed down 626 private schools and academics have been banned from travelling abroad.
The military coup, which began last Friday night and lasted for several hours, was thwarted by security forces and people who remained loyal to Erdogan’s government. At least 246 people were killed in the violence, including more than 100 civilians. Around 1,400 people were injured.
Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan who resides in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, has been accused by Erdogan to be the mastermind behind the failed coup, though Gulen has strongly denied the allegations. Turkey has demanded the extradition of Gulen from the United States.
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