Turkey coup attempt: Society divided over state of emergency

Special forces police in Taksim Square (21 July) Image copyright EPA
Image caption A state of emergency came into force in Turkey on Thursday

Against a backdrop of nightly gatherings in Turkey to celebrate the defeat of last week's attempted coup, a state of emergency was declared by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and approved by 346 votes to 115 in the Turkish Parliament.

Parliamentary deputies met in the main chamber just metres from the building's wrecked central hall, damaged in a missile strike during the failed coup. In all, nine missiles hit the building and its grounds.

Ultimately, Turkish society resisted the coup, but a week on society is divided over the merits and risks of the state of emergency that has followed.

"It is better to have a declared state of emergency than a de facto one", Metin Feyzioglu, chairman of the Turkish Bar Association said. But he had a warning for the government over the massive wave of suspensions and arrests that followed the failed coup.

"They [the authorities] must understand that if they want to follow the way that leads to eliminating all their critics, then there will be no country to govern, no society to lead, and unfortunately the country will disintegrate," he said.

Ufuk Ulutas, director of the Ankara-based Foundation for Economic and Political Research (SETA), defended the government's decision to impose the emergency measures.

"We're talking about a country whose parliament, whose special forces, whose presidential compound were bombed by F-16 jets and attack helicopters. And we're talking about a group of coup-plotters who are abundant in number," he said.

"Of course, the government has to be very careful about the prosecution process, because we're talking about a huge number of people. There may be some who are on the lists by mistake," he added.

In parliament, Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag attempted to reassure those in doubt.

"The measures are necessary in order to make sure there is no repeat of the coup attempt," he said. "If we could accomplish our task without [the state of emergency] we would. This is not martial law."

Bulent Tezcan, chairman of the parliamentary group of the CHP, the main opposition Republican Peoples Party, said that the emergency measures risked undermining the remarkable unity with which the coup was defeated.

He said: "There is unease that what is happening in the public squares is no longer an expression of the will of the nation, but the propaganda of a certain party."