Defying Critics, Turkey’s Erdogan Says to Extend State of Emergency

ANKARA (Reuters) —
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after a news conference following the National Security Council and cabinet meetings at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)

Turkey would benefit from another three months of a state of emergency, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, striking a defiant tone against those who have criticized the reach of a government crackdown following a failed coup.

Speaking a day after the National Security Council recommended the extension of emergency rule, Erdogan said the measure sped up Ankara’s fight against terrorism, adding he believed Turks would support it.

More than 100,000 people, including members of the police, civil service and military, have been sacked or suspended since the failed July 15 coup, in which a group of rogue soldiers attempted to overthrow the government, killing at least 240 people. Around 40,000 people have been detained.

“It would be in Turkey’s benefit to extend the state of emergency for three months,” Erdogan told a group of provincial leaders in Ankara. “They say one year isn’t right for Turkey. Let’s wait and see, maybe 12 months won’t be enough.”

Rights groups, some Western governments, and Turkey’s main opposition party have criticized the reach of the crackdown.

The head of the opposition Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said this month that the state of emergency should be used only to bring the country back to normal and that innocent people were suffering in the purges.

Erdogan said the goal of the state of emergency was to fight terrorist organisations – including supporters of the Muslim cleric Ankara blames for the coup, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Erdogan announced the three-month state of emergency on July 20, saying it would enable authorities to take swift action against those responsible for the putsch.

The government blames followers of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for the coup attempt and says the purges are necessary to root out Gulenist influence in the state. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since 1999, has denied involvement in the attempted coup and condemned it.

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