German media: Turkey in the grips of informal emergency regime

Although the emergency regime following the failed July 2016 coup in Turkey came down about a year ago, its effects remain visible. Many citizens are still deprived of fundamental rights, prisons are overcrowded and everything shows that 3 years later, the country is living in an informal emergency regime.

The government is building 137 new prisons

As an article from the German Die Welt notes: The newspaper columnist cites a study by Veli Akbaabah, vice-president of the main opposition party, the CHP. “From July 20 to July 21, 2018, 130,000 people were fired from public services. 46 of which committed suicide, including police officers, teachers, military and judges… They were not only excluded from the public sector and brought to justice, but have been registered in the police file as suspected for terrorist acts. Which means that they can’t find a job even the private sector, because all businesses and insurers have access to the record. These people are doomed to live in poverty.”

The effects of the emergency are more visible in prisons, where the report says the number of detainees and prisoners has surpassed any record in the country’s history. “In 2015, the percentage of detainees awaiting trial reached 14.6%, today it represents 1/3 of all those in prison. This proves that justice makes use of the measure of temporary detention as a direct means of punishment for people who have not yet been finally convicted,” the newspaper writes. “There are 206,457 convicted and 55,574 temporary detainees in Turkish prisons today. A total of 264,031 people in 353 prisons across the country with a capacity of 218,000 beds … The government is building 137 new prisons.”

Refugees in Turkey are no longer welcome

The economic crisis that Turkey is going through has affected the policies and the feelings of the residents towards the Syrian refugees. Four million refugees have sought protection in Turkey, of which 3.6 million have come from neighboring Syria. But they are no longer welcome. Because of the crisis, refugees are a major problem with explosive social dimensions.

This is the point of the Handelsblatt newspaper correspondent, who recalls that in early July in the Istanbul district, dozens of Turks destroyed shop windows with Arabic names, prompting police to fire tear gas to repel them. “The climate has been reversed, one of those opposing the presence of so many Syrians in Turkey is the mayor of the city Erem Imamoglu,” the journalist notes. “He won the election against the AKP last June and was very much lauded in the West for this victory. But he sees refugees as a heavy burden. In a city of 16 million people live 500,000 registered refugees, but officials estimate that the undocumented are just as many, ie one refugee per 16 inhabitants. Indeed, in a press conference with journalists from abroad, Imamoglu said it was wrong to distribute refugees from Syria across the country and ordered Syrian shopkeepers to change the inscriptions of their stores to Turkish.”

The columnist makes extensive reference to EU financial aid and cites his own sources as saying that Ankara is pressing for faster release of funds and for greater control. “Behind closed doors officials in Ankara complain that the money-making aid organizations are putting too much money in their pockets,” he notes. “And indeed,” he continues, “13% of the amount going to approved humanitarian organizations is withheld for operating expenses and management. That’s why the Turkish government wants to recruit its own organizations.” Another complaint of the Turkish government is that Community aid is being given too slowly and to the wrong channels. “The Turkish government does not like the fact that the EU finally decides what to do with the money, despite the fact that the refugees are in Turkish territory.”