New Turkish Emergency Decrees Pave Way for Extrajudicial Vigilantism

Recep Erdogan Turkey AKP Turkish emergency decrees US pastor Turkey who is recep tayyip erdogan
Ankara (GPA– A new set of Turkish emergency decrees announced Sunday is likely to pave the way for new methods of crushing President Erdogan’s opposition.

Over the weekend, the new decrees were announced in the Official Gazette, a journal devoted to publishing new laws as the government enacts them. The new decrees extend the current state of emergency in the country by providing immunity to civilians “whether they have an official title or not, and whether they have carried out official duties or not” in suppressing anti-government activity.

Recep Erdogan Turkey AKP Turkish emergency decrees
Turkish President Recep Erdogan
Image: Flickr – Democracy Chronicles

This means that protections previously only offered to government officials – such as military officers who countered last years coup attempt – will now be extended to the average citizen who is acting in a manner deemed as protecting President Recep Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The new regulations were almost immediately denounced by top legal experts in the country, including the head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, Metin Feyzioglu, who warns “People will start shooting each other in the head on the streets.” “So you have brought out an article that leaves civilians killing and lynching each other unpunished and without compensation. Are you aware of what you have done Mr. President?” he said.

Related: Erdogan Sues Opposition Over Corruption Charges, Offers to Resign if True

Even Erdogan ally and former-President Abdullah Gul called the new laws “worrisome” and said he hoped the government would reconsider.

According to the AKP, this law is meant to protect civilians like those who answered Erdogan’s call to take to the streets during the 2016 coup to uphold the government. The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) isn’t buying this justification and has promised to take the matter to the nation’s highest court.

The CHP is one group with the most valid reason to worry as they are often accused of attempting to overthrow the government and being allied with terrorist organizations. Just in the past few months Erdogan has publicly attacked and filed legal complaints against opposition politicians.

Related: Turkish MP Faces Charges for Calling Erdogan ‘Fascist Dictator’

Many critics believe this new set of decrees could also bring down the final barrier holding back armed paramilitary death squads executing “terrorists” in the street. Situations like this have already occurred in similar atmospheres, such as the 1970s when the infamous nationalist Grey Wolves organization carried out violence and assassinations.

The government is also clearly not done widening the net to catch more “enemies of the state,” as proven this weekend when another decree by the government firing around 2,700 public sector employees on Sunday. This is just the latest addition to the number of unemployed government workers, now reaching over 110,000

The real world effects of the new laws are unlikely to manifest overnight but rather over a period of time, by way of new precedents from court decisions or new publicly stated priorities of law enforcement agencies. This is the largest show of power by Erdogan since winning his referendum earlier this year which granted his office massive amounts of new authority as well as a move clearly designed strictly for protecting the President and the AKP.