AKP’s ‘Bicycle ride’: Why President Erdoğan will not lift the emergency rule

Who lies behind the bloody coup attempt?

No matter how hard President Erdoğan tries, convincing the world does not seem easy.

”It is ‘FETO’ and that person who lives in Pennsylvania” he said in New York, where he is for the UN General Assembly opening ceremony. By ‘FETO’ he means Gülen Movement, and ‘that person’ is Fethullah Gülen, who is its spiritual leader.

”But we were unable persuade our American friends about this, to make them accept it. They still talk about the judicial process etc. We had sent 85 boxes filled with files. We are strategic partners. We are together under NATO, we have bilateral ties and still wait for the steps to be taken.”

Against his words stand Gülen’s.

In a most recent interview for the German ZDF TV and Die Zeit newspaper, Pennsylvania-based cleric challenged Erdoğan, asking him to prove his accusations, and went further claiming that the coup was Erdoğan’s making; that he had planned it for a long time and waited for the right moment to strike.


Remains two issues: The chief orchestrator of the coup-attempt and what has been taking in its aftermath.

Over two months passed and what we concretely ended up with is an emergency rule, and its massive, brutal consequences.

What we have been witnessing is that both Gülen Movement and the Kurdish Political Movement are now used as ‘two mothers of evil’, without any clear evidence, as to justify the immense ‘cleansing’ and mass incarceration.

 The smoke screen gets even more dense with additional developments.


In my previous blog, I had raised the issue with persistent claims of torture having made a come-back to Turkish police houses and prisons. Perhaps it came as no surprise that Ankara in the last minute postponed the fact-finding visit by the UN.

“While I understand that the developments in Turkey during the last months demand the government’s fullest attention, I believe that postponing my visit at this late stage sends the wrong message,” said The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez. “In light of the thousands of arrests made following the failed coup-attempt of 15 July 2016, and the allegations of severe overcrowding and poor conditions in many detention centres throughout the country, my visit is of utmost importance.”

There is a bitter irony, of course, a country negotiating accession of membership with the EU, flatly lays obstacles on the most serious issue, that has to do with physical brutality and, as arrest conditions point out, with habeas corpus.

All take place against the backdrop of the emergency rule, no doubt, and President Erdoğan leaves us with little doubt about its extension, possibly, ad infinitum. He mentioned that after the first three month period, which ends in October 21, ‘we can extend it at least for another three months, perhaps longer.’

He may have found very efficient to rule the huge country through extraordinary measures. It gave the rulers a big hammer, and helps them see every problem as a nail to be banged on. Every hit with the hammer means a legal backlash in the future.

Yet, it stands already clear that, given the magnitude of draconian sanctions since late July, the emergency rule will be extremely costly for the political future of the AKP and destructive for Turkey.

A quick glance at the data is sufficient. According to the website, Turkey Purge, 100.482 people were ‘cleansed’ from the state institutions. 42.984 of them were arrested, of which 23.770 were sent to pretrial detention. 19 universities, 1254 associations and foundations, 2.099 schools and dorms were sut down. 3.465 judges and prosecutors, more than 11.000 teachers were ‘liquidated’. 160 media outlets were seized and closed. 122 journalists are in prison; 2.308 lost their jobs.

A most dramatic part of the sanctions is the seizure – some critics call it downright ‘looting’ – of assets and properties of mainly Gülen Movement affiliates.

One scholar told me the other day, that these measures affect a total of 2 million people, with regard to relatives and families.

Those purged and oppressed will not sit and watch it quietly. Not that they trust the Public Ombudsman Office (because its head, a high judge, seems subordinated to the Palace), although a massive amount of complaints will end up there, the most serious series of processes will be at the European Court of Human Rights and the International Court of Arbitration. Lawyers believe that, although the processes may take some years, the end result will be in stark disfavor of the Turkish state.

Paradoxically, the ‘fishy’ background of the coup attempt and the growing legal wreckage in its aftermath mean how difficult for the AKP it will be to give up on the emergency rule and return to normality.

As can be expected, Erdoğan and the top figures of the AKP speak about extending the Emergency Rule, rather than giving reassurances that a return to normality is a matter of a short time. They know perfectly well that as soon as it is lifted, the civilian backlash, in terms of complaints and a pressure for a rule of law will be intense. In short, the AKP has been itself taken hostage by the ‘decree regime’ which the Emergency Rule actually mean.

No doubt, then, the following weeks and months will be even more unpredictable than before. This is enough reason to be concerned. Deeply concerned.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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