Normal vs abnormal
The end of the emergency rule ought to be a development worth celebrating. No extraordinary imposition can and should last forever, but the Turkish-style emergency rule has been such a traumatic one that when news emerged almost two years after it was declared that it would end was a great relief.
Alas, a draft presented to parliament and expected to be legislated swiftly by the coalition of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) aims at consolidating and extending extraordinary powers of the state of emergency to the central and local administrations for three more years. “Normal” governance under the enhanced powers given to local administrations and the central government and an enhanced anti-terrorism law has become “abnormal,” but it is still fully legitimate. What is for sure, unfortunately, is that the already troubled relations of Turkey with the free and democratic world will be further strained.
Have a look at some of the powers the government is seeking from parliament to avoid obstacles in the fight against terrorism:
- Governors can ban or postpone demonstrations.
- Governors can expel anyone they consider “suspicious” or a threat.
- Including generals, all military personnel can be searched with detectors upon entry to military barracks.
- Those expelled from public jobs under the state of emergency will not be able to return to their posts.
- Vice presidents and ministers can be probed with the president’s approval. Parliamentarians can be probed with the parliament speaker’s consent. With the interior minister’s authority, governors can be probed. High court members can be probed by authorized councils established under special laws.
- Those expelled from public work under the emergency law or by the new law, as well as those reinstated to public service by a special committee, will not be appointed to their former posts. Even if they are reinstated to public duties or back to the military, they will not serve in certain “sensitive” posts.
- Contrary to the fundamental principle of the individuality of crime, during the three-year period which this new law will be applied, the passports of not only the people accused of crime or removed from public duties will be revoked, but so will their spouses. Also, the phones of immediate family members of such people could be wiretapped.
- For the three-year period security forces will have emergency rule-like powers, such as the 48-hour-long detention period that can be extended up to six full days.
- Instead of firing people with emergency rule decrees in the post-emergency rule period, commissions will be set up at public institutions, which will have the authority to expel people from public work.
- Also, under the draft, academics can be expelled from universities upon the proposal of the chair of the Higher Education Board (YÖK) by YÖK’s general council. Administrative personnel at universities can be expelled from duty by the board of the relevant university.
Most likely these and similar extraordinary measures that had become routine under the emergency rule will become the new normal in Turkey. Still, even though most of its anti-democratic and repressive measures will be continued in the new era, the end of the state of emergency ought to be a development worth celebrating.