Turkey on Monday extended emergency rule for another three months, almost a year after it was imposed in the wake of last July’s failed military coup.
The government asked parliament to extend it for a fourth time and the proposal was approved by the assembly, where President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party has a comfortable majority.
The extension followed weekend ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the abortive coup in which around 250 people, mostly unarmed civilians, were killed.
Since emergency rule was imposed on July 20 last year, more than 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 people have been suspended from their jobs in a crackdown which Erdogan’s opponents say has pushed Turkey on a path to greater authoritarianism.
The government says the purge is necessary to confront security challenges facing Turkey and to root out supporters of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who it says was behind the coup attempt. Gulen has denied any involvement.
Speaking at parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said the emergency rule had helped created the necessary legal environment to cleanse the state of Gulen’s network.
“All of those in the state’s high levels have been dismissed, but there are still hidden people,” Canikli said. In a series of public ceremonies to mourn people killed in the coup attempt and celebrate those who thwarted it, Erdogan defiantly stepped up his condemnation of the European Union and said he would bring back the death penalty if parliament approved it.
Ties with the West were strained when European governments voiced alarm at the scale of the crackdown. Another 7,000 police, civil servants and academics were dismissed last week according to a decree published on Friday.