INFORMATIVE NOTE ON THE AFTERMATH OF 15 JULY COUP ATTEMPT
The coup attempt on the 15th July was another manifestation of terrorism. Although this terrorist attack did not fit the existing norms, nor the images such attacks conjure, it aimed terrorizing the Turkish nation by use of force to accept the rule of a clandestine organization named FETÖ.
The Turkish people with their momentous gallantry has set an unprecedented example for the defense of its democracy, rights and liberties on 15th July 2016. The resolve of our people together with the state has saved our constitutional system based on democracy and rule of law against this sinister campaign.
The Turkish people coming from all segments, regardless of their political affiliations, took to the streets on the night of 15th of July and the successive evenings until 10th August to stand guard for our democracy.
The political parties did the same in defending democracy at the parliament literally against bombs.
As one of the founding members of the Council of Europe, Turkey has the necessary will and the assets to uphold democracy.
It is important to properly understand what happened on 15th July in Turkey and to draw the necessary conclusions as regards to the resilience of Turkish democracy and the united stance of Turkish people, the media and the political parties against this perilous threat.
The visit of Council of Europe Secretary General Jagland to Turkey on 3-4 August was very helpful in this regard. The Secretary General has drawn attention to the “too little understanding” from Europe about the challenges facing Turkey in the wake of the foiled coup attempt.
Turkey attaches importance to this statement made by the head of an organization acknowledged as the symbol of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights in Europe.
Unfortunately, many statements by some external actors made during or in the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt fell short of real understanding of the extent and depth of the threat, and ignored the brave and unique fight carried out by the Turkish nation.
In the same vein, Turkey has seen that there were unfounded and prejudicial remarks, comments and even reports regarding the scope and the nature of the measures Turkish authorities have been taking against the coup plotters and the FETÖ network.
Before going into the area of measures adopted, it should be said that Turkey will act in accordance with its international obligations and principles of the rule of law in treating those who staged this terrorist coup attempt. Any violation of rights will be and is duly investigated, not only because Turkey feels accountable to the international community but for the sake of Turkey’s integrity, responsibility and dedication to upholding fundamental rights and freedoms of Turkish people.
As also indicated by Minister Çavuşoğlu in his article published in Newsweek recently, “We are determined to fight these enemies of our democracy with democracy”.
This is imperative when we take into account Turkey’s deep rooted state tradition, our understanding of constitutional rule as well as our goal to ensure that the universal human rights rules and norms function unhindered.
Since the Coup attempt, a lively and informative debate in the Turkish media regarding FETÖ and its role in this coup plot has been followed. Those who have had prior collaboration with FETÖ draw a very clear picture of this secretive terror structure.
Indeed, the role of FETÖ in the coup plot, its structure and modus operandi will be documented and argued before the court of law by the prosecutors. Yet, as it’s seen in the media reports there is compelling evidence that shows FETÖ was the instigator of this attack on Turley’s democratic rule and fundamental freedoms of the Turkish Nation.
FETÖ has infiltrated so widely into the state organs as well as in several other sectors, both in public and private, such as health, education, academia, media, and business, that it has become an irrefutable threat to the nation.
The efforts of our Government in the past few years to detect the infiltration of FETÖ into the state apparatus were a major factor in FETÖ’s coup attempt.
Few elements about the judicial proceedings;
I) There are more than 10 ongoing judicial investigations regarding the FETÖ. Among others, there were two recent cases which we deem significant to show how FETÖ infiltration abused judicial system for their own interest.
A- The decision of the İzmir court on 13 July, regarding the military espionage case was the first conviction of military personnel for their illegal activities in link with FETÖ and had implications for the upcoming Military High Council meeting.
B- The court decision in Erzincan on 16 June 2016, now pending for approval of Court of Cassation is about the illegal plotting against a prosecutor back in 2009 that resulted with his imprisonment. This prosecutor is now a Member of Parliament within CHP ranks (İlhan Cihaner). This decision is also important as it established FETÖ as a terrorist organization.
II) In the aftermath of 15 July, we have witnessed how this coup attempt was plotted by collaboration of different structures of FETÖ both in military and civilian sectors. Turkish people learned that an assistant professor of theology was a commanding Imam of the Gulenists in the Air Force (Adil Öksüz).
Although the terrorist coup attempt was prevented, we have to be vigilant against lingering dangers towards our democracy, fundamental rights and national security.
In this vein and in face of the gravity of the situation, it was required to impose extraordinary procedures which are provided in the Constitution and relevant international legal instruments.
In this direction, the Council of Ministers of Turkey decided on 20 July 2016 that a nationwide State of Emergency be declared as from July 21, 2016 for a period of ninety days, pursuant to Article 120 of the Constitution and Article 3 § 1 (b) of the Law on the State of Emergency (Law no. 2935).
The Council of Ministers took this decision in its meeting under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in view of the recommendation dated 20 July 2016, no. 498 of the National Security Council. The decision was endorsed by the Turkish Parliament on 21 July 2016.
Turkey’s Constitution includes explicit provisions on the State of Emergency and provides necessary safeguards through setting out clear conditions, rules and procedures for the declaration of the State of Emergency as well as the general principles to be observed during this period.
This measure is also permissible under international human rights law, including European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 15 of the ECHR and Article 4 of the ICCPR provide the Member States with the right to take measures derogating from their obligations under the Convention, in public emergency situations.
The purpose of the State of Emergency is to take all required measures in the most speedy and effective manner in the fight against FETÖ terrorist organization and return to normalcy as soon as possible.
In this process as well, utmost care will continue to be given to uphold our democracy and the fundamental rights of our citizens with the rule of law.
It should be underlined that Turkey is not the only country who resorted to declare State of Emergency in such circumstances. Many democratic countries did the same when facing similar or even against limited security threats.
It should be remembered that during the period prior to 15th July 2016, the Turkish government carried out its counter-terror operations against PKK and DAESH terrorist organizations in severe conditions without declaring a State of Emergency.
The Government spared no effort to carry out the measures within the context of the regular norms and standards of the European Human Rights regime.
Yet, in the face of grave and violent attacks as bitterly manifested during the terrorist coup attempt on 15 July, the declaration of the State of Emergency had to be resorted to eradicate this terrorist network in a most speedy and effective manner.
Although it has been declared for a period of 90 days, all extraordinary measures will be terminated once the result in the fight against the FETÖ terrorist organization will be successfully attained.
Following the declaration of state of emergency, Turkey has also duly resorted to the right of derogation from the obligations the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
As clearly stated in these legal instruments, a derogation is not a suspension of rights. It may bring certain limitations to the exercise of certain rights under required conditions. Moreover, this right is not permissible for certain articles, including those related to; right to life, prohibition of torture, prohibition of slavery, and prohibition from punishment without law.
Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights allows States to take necessary measures without delay for the protection of human rights in cases of emergency threatening the life of the nation. Contracting parties to the ECHR are able to take these measures to the extent strictly required by the conditions of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with its other obligations under international law.
Additional measures that may be resorted by Turkey in necessary circumstances, will certainly be in line with the principle of proportionality laid down in the ECHR and commensurate with our mature democracy and our adherence to the rule of law based on human rights.
So, while taking the measures under Article 15, Turkey continues to be subject to the supervision of the European Court of Human Rights. It is a clear misinformation that Turkey suspended the Court’s jurisdiction.
Also much has been said and written about the Decrees with the Force of Law, issued after the declaration of State of Emergency. So far, five such Decrees were published in the Official Gazette on 23 July, 27 July, 31 July and 16 August respectively (No. 667, 668, 669, 670 and 671). The Decrees aim to facilitate the measures to fight the FETÖ in a most speedy and effective manner. The Decrees are a response to the violent coup attempt and ensuing public concerns, in the face of an emergency threatening the future of the nation.
While resolutely fighting the FETÖ under state of emergency, the Government is now also taking concrete steps to further the reform process in the field of human rights, rule of law and democracy as manifested in the ongoing works for constitutional reform. This process has gained impetus as the political parties at the Parliament joined the efforts in a constructive manner.
Expectations from our partners:
Everybody is aware that after its role in 15th July was revealed, FETÖ attempted to strike back through its lobby and propaganda network. The leader of FETÖ, Fethullah Gulen gave interviews in Western media outlets.
A- In one of the newspapers the article was published with the headline “Between the Sultan and the Imam”. Aside from being a condescending sample of orientalism, this headline rendered the fight we, as a Nation and the State, give against a criminal group as a choice or a personal vendetta between a President and the leader of this terrorist group. Nothing can be further than the truth. The President of this country, H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is a leader democratically elected by the people of Turkey. And as witnessed with the Yenikapı meeting of 7th August, he was joined in this fight against FETÖ by all the leading political forces in this country.
B- In the same manner, fugitives from FETÖ around the globe began a vengeful smear campaign against Turkey. In all these PR pieces FETÖ is now portrayed to be a peaceful organization which preached so called moderate Islam, through charities, schools, NGOs in 160 countries as partners of the West. They of course did not mention how the fugitive prosecutors and police chiefs of Ergenekon and Balyoz cases fabricated evidence, how their companies stole tax payers money, how they misused the charities, how they stole the public service exam questions, manipulated murder investigations aiming disapproving politicians or leaked national security secrets.
C- Turkey sees increasing efforts by the Gulenists abroad to depict the measures by our Government as a purge or political repression with a view to obtaining political asylum or residence abroad. They also claim to be targeted by Turkish diaspora members abroad. Turkey would expect that all the Governments to be very vigilant against such propaganda which obviously target the bilateral relations and cooperation between Turkey and its partners. It would be appreciated that all our partners cooperating with us for bringing to justice those who have committed crimes against Turkish Nation and not to permit activities of this clandestine organization on their soil.
In that regard, it is important to bring partner countries’ attention to the central role of more than 800 education facilities owned or operated by FETÖ abroad. They are central for recruitment, networking and financing of FETÖ structure. It is expected from our counterparts to take the necessary measures to stop the functioning of schools affiliated with FETÖ terrorist organization in their countries.
In this respect, Maarif Foundation was established to take over those schools, if it is requested by the authorities of the relevant countries. To this end, delegations from Ministry of National Education of Turkey have started to pay visits to some countries in order to negotiate the ongoing procedures. Turkey is ready to give necessary support in this process to our counterparts.
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