Posts Tagged ‘state of emergency’

Ethiopia declares ‘state of emergency’ to last six months

February 17, 2018

This file photo taken on June 10, 2015 shows Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn attending the closing session of an African summit meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. (AFP)
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ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia said Saturday that a state of emergency will remain in place for six months, as the authorities move to quell “chaos and unruliness.”
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The council of ministers declared the country’s second emergency decree in two years on Friday evening.
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It capped a tumultuous week that saw Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resign, a strike in the country’s largest region and a massive prisoner amnesty.
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“The state of emergency will be for six months and will be approved by parliament,” state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) wrote on Facebook, quoting Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa.
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The government had cited “ethnic-based clashes” and “chaos and unruliness” as the reasons for the declaration.
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“To be able to protect the constitutional system, declaring a state of emergency has become necessary,” EBC said, quoting a government communique.
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While the decree is already in effect, parliamentary approval for the requested six-month period appears likely as the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies control all the seats in the House of Peoples’ Representatives.
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Ethiopia last declared a state of emergency in October 2016 after months of protests in Oromia — home to the country’s largest ethnicity, the Oromos — and neighboring Amhara region.
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The 10-month decree succeeded in quelling the unrest, which killed hundreds and resulted in tens of thousands of arrests, despite criticism from rights groups.
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But anti-government sentiment remained in the two regions and the analysts believe Hailemariam’s response to the protests eventually led to his surprise resignation, a first in modern Ethiopia.
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The prime minister said he was leaving to give the EPRDF space as it pursued political reforms.
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“I myself want to become part of the solution,” he said in announcing his resignation Thursday.
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Last month, Hailemariam announced Ethiopia would release some jailed “politicians” in order to “improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform.”
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In the weeks since, hundreds of prisoners were pardoned or released from custody, including some of the country’s most prominent dissidents.
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Nonetheless, Oromo activists called a strike earlier this week that saw businesses shutter and young men armed with rocks and sticks block roads in Oromia to push the government to keep its prisoner amnesty promise.
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The strike was called off after detained Oromo politicians were freed along with hundreds of other prisoners including journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage.
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The next day, Hailemariam announced his resignation.
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He will remain in office until parliament and the EPRDF coalition confirm his resignation. It remains unclear who will then take over.
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Turkey set to extend post-coup state of emergency for 6 years

January 17, 2018

Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu speaks during a meeting about the “State of Emergency” in Ankara, on Monday. (AFP)
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ANKARA: Turkey is set to extend a state of emergency for the sixth time since it was imposed following failed 2016 coup attempt, worrying government opponents and allies who fear the special powers are thrusting Turkey toward an increasingly authoritarian direction.
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The state of emergency, declared five days after the July 15, 2016 coup, has allowed a massive government crackdown aimed at suspected supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey says was behind the coup attempt. Gulen denies any involvement.
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The state of emergency has also paved the way for the arrest of other government opponents, including activists, journalists and politicians and the closure of media and non-governmental organizations over alleged links to extremist groups.
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Most crucially, it has allowed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to rule through decrees, often bypassing Parliament which he has long accused of slowing down his government’s ability to perform.
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Among the more than 30 decrees issued since the coup, some have regulated the use of winter tires, obliged detainees accused of links to extremism to wear uniforms in court and gave full-employment rights to temporary workers. One vaguely-worded decree granting legal immunity to civilians who helped thwart the coup sparked an outcry and fears that it would encourage vigilante groups.
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Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s pro-secular main opposition party, this week accused Erdogan of taking advantage of the failed military coup to trample on democracy and lead a “civilian coup” of his own through his emergency powers.
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“What have winter tires got to do with the state of emergency?” he asked.
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“Through the decrees with the force of law, the government can now do whatever it pleases,” Kilicdaroglu said. “The constitution is of no importance. The government has obtained the power to carry out all unlawful arrangements.”
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Turkey’s National Security Council is meeting Wednesday to recommend prolonging the state of emergency by a further three months, before the extension is due to be approved by the Council of Ministers later in the day and voted on in Parliament Thursday. Its current term expires on Jan. 19.
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The government has defended its move to extend the emergency rule pointing to the severity of the coup attempt — during which rogue soldiers attacked Parliament and other state buildings leading to more than 250 deaths — and citing a continued security threat from Gulen’s network of supporters.
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Erdogan has said the state of emergency will remain as long as security threats persist. Few believe that Erdogan will allow the emergency rule to end before a presidential election in 2019, when a set of constitutional amendments, narrowly approved in a referendum in April, come into effect, giving the president sweeping powers.
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Observers say Erdogan is unlikely to take any step that would put a victory at the 2019 election at risk, including ending the state of emergency that has permitted authorities to ban public gatherings, which some say limited opposition parties’ ability to run effective campaigns during the referendum.
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The EU, which Turkey once hoped to join, and the Council of Europe — the continent’s top human rights and democracy body — have expressed concerns over the state of emergency. The EU has called on Turkish authorities to respect the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
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The Council of Europe last year specifically criticized decrees that dismissed elected mayors and other municipal officials in Turkey’s mainly-Kurdish southeast over terror-related charges and the reappointment of unelected officials in their place.
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The rights advocacy group, Freedom House, this week reduced Turkey’s status from a “Partly Free” country to “Not Free,” citing among other things, the replacement of elected mayors, and the arrests and purges of public sector workers for alleged links to Gulen. The group said the moves had left “citizens hesitant to express their views on sensitive topics.”
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Under the state of emergency, Turkey has arrested around 50,000 people and purged 110,000 civil servants in a crackdown aimed at cleansing the state of Gulen’s followers.

Egypt to extend state of emergency to fight terrorists

January 2, 2018

Reuters

Image result for egypt police, photos

Egyptian police

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt is to extend its nationwide state of emergency for three months from Jan. 13 to help tackle “the dangers and funding of terrorism”, state news agency MENA said on Tuesday.

Egypt first imposed the current state of emergency last April after two church bombings killed at least 45 people. It was extended in July and again in October.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is widely expected to run for a second term in an election due early this year, issued a decree on Tuesday to extend the state of emergency.

The latest extension was to allow security forces to “take (measures) necessary to confront the dangers and funding of terrorism and safeguard security in all parts of the country,” MENA reported, citing Egypt’s official gazette.

Egypt faces an Islamic State insurgency in the remote North Sinai region that has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen in recent years and has expanded to include attacks on civilians.

Other Islamists operating in the western desert bordering Libya have also attacked security forces.

Attacks south of Cairo in the past week, one of them claimed by Islamic State, have targeted Christians.

The election date is to be announced next Monday, local media reported.

Reporting by Ahmed Tolba and John Davison; Editing by Gareth Jones

State of emergency in Honduras after post-vote violence

December 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Violence erupted for the second consecutive day after opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla claimed fraud and urged his supporters to take to the streets in protest

TEGUCIGALPA (AFP) – The Honduran government declared a state of emergency late Friday and imposed a 10-day curfew in an attempt to stop violent demonstrations across the country triggered by claims of presidential election fraud.Police said at least two officers and 12 civilians were injured, some by gunfire, after clashes in several parts of the country between riot police and opposition supporters.

The violence was sparked by opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla claiming election fraud and calling his supporters onto the streets.

 

An executive decree issued by President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who is seeking re-election despite a constitutional ban on a second term, imposes a nighttime curfew from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am.

Representatives of the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and political parties, national and international observers and journalists accredited to cover the elections are exempt.

Thousands of Nasralla supporters blocked roads across the country, and footage of their confrontations with the police — who attempted to disperse demonstrators with tear gas — went viral on social media.

In the capital Tegucigalpa, protesters lit bonfires of sticks and tires on boulevards and on exit routes.

The unrest sparked panic, with people rushing to supermarkets and gas stations to stock up, fearing the riots would prevent them from leaving their homes.

Shops closed by the afternoon and some international flights were suspended at the capital’s airport.

– Cliffhanger vote –

With nearly 95 percent of the ballots counted from last week’s vote, Hernandez had a razor-thin lead of 42.92 percent over Nasralla’s 41.42 percent.

TSE president David Matamoros postponed until Saturday a special count — with officials from both camps present — to review ballots with inconsistencies, blurs and other errors before a result can be declared, following new demands from leftist leader and ex-president Manuel Zelaya.

“Within three days, we will have the result. We accept to recognise the final result if they accept these points,” Zelaya said.

But in an television interview, Nasralla demanded a full recount, warning of possible collusion between the TSE and the government.

“Do not let them steal the presidency,” said activist Juan Barahona of Nasralla’s Alliance of Opposition Against the Dictatorship.

Police said they had arrested 50 people for alleged looting between Thursday and Friday.

Security forces said rioters had damaged businesses and vehicles, some of which had been doused in gasoline and set on fire.

Earlier, Hernandez broadcast a statement calling for calm and predicting “we are going to do very well” in the vote.

The Organization of American States observer mission urged the TSE in a letter Thursday to ensure that 100 percent of the ballots were processed before declaring a result.

“Political parties should be given the opportunity to present challenges. These will have to be dealt with impartially and within a reasonable timeframe and following due process,” it said.

“This is the only way to restore confidence in this election and in the integrity of the popular will.”

French MPs to vote on tough anti-terror law

October 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Loïc VENNIN | French soldiers stand guard outside the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

PARIS (AFP) – French lawmakers will vote Tuesday on a tough new counter-terrorism law designed to end the country’s two-year state of emergency which critics say expands police powers at a cost to civil liberties.

The vote comes following a string of attacks in France since 2015 and just two days after more bloodshed in the southern port city of Marseille when a suspected Islamist knifeman killed two women.

While Interior Minister Gerard Collomb defends the bill as a “lasting response to a lasting threat”, it has come under fire from the French left and human rights groups.

“What makes us angry is that it’s a state of emergency that would become permanent and roll back our freedoms,” said Christine Lazerges, the head of the National Consultative Committee on Human Rights, a state body.

The law, designed to replace the state of emergency that France has been under since the November 2015 Paris attacks, would come into force on November 1 if approved by both houses of parliament.

The lower house will vote Tuesday on the bill which will give authorities the power to place people under house arrest, order house searches and ban public gatherings without the prior approval of a judge.

– Marseille attack –

The state of emergency was meant to be temporary but was extended six times for various reasons, such as the need to protect major sporting and cultural events, as well as presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year.

The vote comes after a knifeman stabbed two women to death on Sunday at the main train station in Marseille shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”). He was shot dead by soldiers.

The Islamic State claimed the attacker was one of its “soldiers”, though a source close to the investigation told AFP no solid evidence linked him to the group.

The stabbings bring to 241 the number of people killed in jihadist attacks in France since January 2015, while Collomb said last month that 12 planned attacks have been foiled since the start of the year.

In an environment of widespread fear about Islamist violence, extensions of the state of emergency have met with little public opposition, with critics of the new law limited to the hard left and human rights groups.

“Gradually our public freedoms… are being eroded,” said lawmaker Alexis Corbiere of the hard-left France Unbowed party.

Last week two UN experts raised fears that the bill could see security forces discriminate against Muslims and undermine France’s standing as a beacon for human rights.

“The normalisation of emergency powers has grave consequences for the integrity of rights protection in France, both within and beyond the context of counter-terrorism,” UN human rights expert Fionnuala Ni Aolain warned.

– Too harsh or too ‘soft’? –

Under international human rights standards, “the duration of the state of emergency must be time-bound, revised regularly, and meet the criteria of necessity and proportionality,” she wrote in a letter co-signed by Michel Forst, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights defenders.

In their letter, addressed to the French authorities, they said the bill’s “vague definition of terrorism” deepened fears that “emergency powers could be used in an arbitrary way”.

Some lawmakers from the French right-wing Republicans party as well as the leader of the far-right National Front have criticised the bill for not going far enough.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, calling the proposed legislation “soft”, said it could not be considered “the great law to eradicate Islamist terrorism”.

Interior Minister Collomb said last week the bill “aims to guarantee the fullness of our individual and collective freedoms but promises that all measures will be taken to ensure the security of the French people.”

Macron, whose centrist party has a comfortable parliamentary majority, has promised that the legislation, which was approved by the Senate in July, would be reviewed in 2020.

burs-lv-gd/adp/ser

by Loïc VENNIN

Turkish foreign minister defiant over arrested Germans

September 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people including journalists under the state of emergency imposed in a crackdown after the failed July 2016 coup.

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday dismissed Berlin’s angry reaction to the arrest of German citizens in Turkey, local media reported, a row which is worsening the nations’ already fraying ties.

“When we arrest (a coup plotter) Germany starts to get upset. But what are we supposed to do?” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by the Anadolu news agency.

“This is also a Turkish citizen but it (Germany) asks why are you arresting my citizen?”.

Turkey has made a wave of arrests since a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people including journalists under the state of emergency imposed in a crackdown after the failed July 2016 coup.

Berlin said Friday that two more German nationals had been held in Turkey “for political reasons”, as Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Ankara that Germany could re-examine its policies following the latest Turkish action.

The latest arrests brings to 12 the total number of Germans in Turkish custody that Berlin considers them political prisoners.

There is “no legal basis” for detention in most of these cases, Merkel said, according to remarks carried by Germany’s DPA news agency.

According to the Dogan news agency, the two German nationals most recently arrested are of Turkish origin and were detained at Antalya airport in southeastern Turkey over suspected links with the failed coup.

“If it’s someone connected to the failed coup, if they supported it, then why are you protecting them?” asked Cavusoglu, speaking in southern Turkey at celebrations for the major Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Adha.

– Frayed ties –

Relations between the two NATO allies have deteriorated sharply since Berlin sharply criticised Ankara over the crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup.

The arrest of several German nationals, including the Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel, the Istanbul correspondent for Die Welt daily, further frayed ties.

Yucel has now spent some 200 days in Turkish custody ahead of a trial on terror charges.

German journalist Mesale Tolu has been held on similar charges since May, while human rights activist Peter Steudtner was arrested in a July raid.

Following Steudtner’s arrest, Germany vowed stinging measures impacting tourism and investment in Turkey and a full “overhaul” of their troubled relations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, has also sparked outrage after charging that Germany is sheltering plotters of last year’s coup, as well as Kurdish militants and terrorists, and demanded their extradition.

Erdogan added to the tensions this month when he urged ethnic Turks in Germany to vote against Merkel’s conservatives and their coalition partners, the Social Democrats, in September 24 elections.

On Friday, Merkel hit out against Erdogan’s call, saying Germany’s election “will be decided only by the people in our country, who have German citizenship”.

The escalating tensions have split the three-million-strong Turkish community in Europe’s top economy, the largest diaspora abroad, which is a legacy of Germany’s “guest worker” programme of the 1960s and 70s.

Related:

Turkey and Germany:

Trump blames “many sides” for the violent clashes between protesters and white supremacists in Virginia

August 13, 2017

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By JONATHAN LEMIRE
The Associated Press

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed “many sides” for the violent clashes between protesters and white supremacists in Virginia and contended that the “hatred and bigotry” broadcast across the country had taken root long before his political ascendancy.

That was not how the Charlottesville mayor assessed the chaos that led the governor to declare a state of emergency, contending that Trump’s campaign fed the flames of prejudice.

Trump, on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, had intended to speak briefly at a ceremony marking the signing of bipartisan legislation to aid veterans, but he quickly found that those plans were overtaken by the escalating violence in the Virginia college town. One person died and at least 26 others were sent to the hospital after a car plowed into a group of peaceful anti-racist counterprotesters amid days of race-fueled marches and violent clashes.

And officials later linked the deaths of two people aboard a crashed helicopter to the protests, though they did not say how they were linked.

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Speaking slowly from a podium set up in the golf clubhouse, Trump said that he had just spoken to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va. “We agreed that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and … true affection for each other,” he said.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” said Trump. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

The president said that “what is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”

After completing his statement and the bill signing, Trump then walked out of the room. He ignored reporters’ shouted questions, including whether he wanted the support of white nationals who have said they backed him or if the car crash in Virginia were deemed intentional, would it be declared to be terrorism.

The previous two days, Trump took more than 50 questions from a small group of reporters. A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for an explanation as to what Trump mean by “many sides.”

Following Trump’s comment, several Republicans pushed for a more explicit denunciation of white supremacists.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner tweeted “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wrote “Nothing patriotic about #Nazis,the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists It’s the direct opposite of what #America seeks to be.”

And even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a staunch Trump supporter, wrote: “We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.”

White nationalists had assembled in Charlottesville to vent their frustration against the city’s plans to take down a statue of Confederal Gen. Robert E. Lee. Counter-protesters massed in opposition. A few hours after violent encounters between the two groups, a car drove into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the rally. The driver was later taken into custody.

Alt-right leader Richard Spencer and former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke attended the demonstrations. Duke told reporters that the white nationalists were working to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

Trump’s speech also drew praise from the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which wrote: “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. … No condemnation at all.”

The website had been promoting the Charlottesville demonstration as part of its “Summer of Hate” edition.

Mayor Michael Signer said he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president,” he said.

Disturbances began Friday night during a torch-lit march through the University of Virginia before escalating Saturday.

The White House was silent for hours except for a tweet from first lady Melania Trump: “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts.”

Trump later tweeted: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.” He also said “there is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” Trump tweeted condolences about the woman killed the protests Saturday evening, more than five hours after the crash.

Trump, as a candidate, frequently came under scrutiny for being slow to offer his condemnation of white supremacists. His strongest denunciation of the movement has not come voluntarily, only when asked, and he occasionally trafficked in retweets of racist social media posts during his campaign. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, once declared that his former news site, Breitbart, was “the platform for the alt-right.”

The president’s reluctance to condemn white bigots also stood in stark contrast by his insistence of calling out “radical Islamic terrorism” by name.

“Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name,” Trump said in a general election debate.

In his remarks Saturday, Trump mentioned the strong economy and “the many incredible things in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it’s very, very sad.”

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Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

See also, from London:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/12/state-emergency-declared-white-supremacists-neo-nazis-bring/

Related:

Turkey extends detention of activists, Amnesty International says — Swedish lawmakers file ‘genocide’ complaint against Turkey’s Erdogan

July 11, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | There are fears of declining freedom of expression under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey has extended for up to a week the detention of the country director of Amnesty International and nine other people held in a controversial police raid, the UK-based rights group said Tuesday.

Idil Eser, director of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained on July 5 along with seven other activists and two foreign trainers during a digital security and information management workshop on Buyukada, an island south of Istanbul.

Their detention caused international alarm and amplified fears of declining freedom of expression under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The police detention will now last until July 19, Amnesty’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner told AFP.

They then must appear before a judge who rules whether they should be formally charged and placed under arrest ahead of trial.

Eight of those detained are Turkish human rights defenders, including Ilknur Ustun of the Women’s Coalition and Veli Acu of the Human Rights Agenda Association.

Two are foreign trainers — a German and a Swedish national — who were leading the digital information workshop.

They are accused of membership of an “armed terrorist organisation”, an allegation Amnesty said was “unfounded”.

But it is not clear which organisation they are accused of belonging to, Gardner said.

The extension is allowed under the state of emergency imposed after last year’s failed coup.

A prosecutor can extend the detention of an individual held on terror-related charges for up to seven days. Previously, the maximum number of days of pre-charge detention was four.

Gardner argued the first part of their detention was illegal because they were denied access to lawyers for 24 hours, could not contact family members where they were and authorities refused to give their location.

“For them to be entering a second week in police cells is a shocking indictment of the ruthless treatment of those who attempt to stand up for human rights in Turkey,” Amnesty’s Europe director John Dalhuisen said.

Erdogan compared the activists to coup plotters, saying they were trying to fulfil the aims of those involved in the July 15 coup bid.

“They gathered for a meeting which was a continuation of July 15,” he said on Saturday.

Last month, Amnesty International’s Turkey chair Taner Kilic was arrested, accused of links to US-based Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of ordering last year’s failed coup.

Amnesty also dismissed those charges as “baseless”.

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Swedish lawmakers file ‘genocide’ complaint against Turkey’s Erdogan

Posted on July 11, 2017

STOCKHOLM,— A group of Swedish lawmakers said Monday they have filed a legal complaint accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Kurdish southeast of his country.

The complaint signed by five lawmakers from the Left and Green parties is the first of its kind in Sweden against a head of state.

The suit relates to the conflict in Turkey’s Kurdish region in the country’s southeast [Turkish Kurdistan], which has been battered by renewed fighting between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces since a fragile truce collapsed in 2015.

“We are five lawmakers handing in a complaint… (requesting) punishment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Annika Lillemets, a MP for the Left party, told a news conference in Stockholm.

The complaint, filed to the Swedish International Public Prosecution Offices, names Erdogan and several ministers including Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

A Swedish law adopted in 2014 allows the country’s courts to judge cases of alleged crimes against humanity regardless of where they have been committed or by whom.

The law stipulates that “anyone, who in order to completely or partially destroy a national or ethnic group of people” kills, causes serious pain or injury is “guilty of genocide”.

The Public Prosecution Offices said it would now decide whether to initiate a preliminary investigation, adding that “it may take a while”.

If prosecutors decide to launch an investigation, Erdogan could risk an arrest warrant in Sweden, the lawmakers said.

Carl Schlyter, an MP for the Greens, said he hoped other lawmakers in European countries would follow their move.

“If (Erdogan) is hindered from roaming around in Europe and influencing European countries the way he wants, then I hope that this will affect his politics,” he said.

Since July 2015, Turkey initiated a controversial military campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK in the country’s southeastern Kurdish region after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement. Since the beginning of the campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.

Activists have accused the Turkish security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians.

Observers say the crackdown has taken a heavy toll on the Kurdish civilian population and accuse Turkey of using collective punishment against the minority. Activists have accused the security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians.

In March 2017, the Turkish security forces accused by UN of committing serious abuses during operations against Kurdish militants in the nation’s southeast.

The UN Human Rights Office in March released a report on allegations of “massive destruction, killings and numerous other serious human rights violations committed” between July 2015 and December 2016 in Turkey’s southeast.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population.

More than 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels, have been killed in the conflict.

A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974, and has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.

http://ekurd.net/swedish-genocide-erdogan-kurds-2017-07-11

Turkey is sliding into dictatorship

April 16, 2017

 Image may contain: 1 person, standing
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is carrying out the harshest crackdown in decades. The West must not abandon Turkey

Apr 15th 2017

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TURKEY matters not just for its size, but also as a bellwether of the political forces shaping the world. For centuries it was the seat of a great empire. Today, as a frontier state, it must cope with the violence spewing out of war-ravaged Syria; it is atest case of whether democracy can be reconciled with political Islam; and it must navigate between Western liberalism and the authoritarian nationalism epitomised by Russia. In recent years under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has gone backwards. This weekend it can begin to put that right.

On April 16th Turks will vote in a referendum over whether to abandon their parliamentary system for an executive presidency. A Yes is likely, but far from certain. There is nothing wrong with a strong president, but Turkey’s new constitution goes too far. The country would end up with a 21st-century sultan minimally curbed by parliament (see Briefing). A Yes would condemn Turkey to the elected dictatorship of President Erdogan. A No might just let Turks constrain him.

Authority figure

After Mr Erdogan came to power in 2003, he and his AK party did a lot that was good. Encouraged by the IMF, he tamed inflation and ushered in economic growth. Encouraged by the EU, he tackled the cabal of military officers and bureaucrats in the “deep state”, strengthened civil liberties and talked peace with the Kurds. He also spoke up for working-class religious conservatives, who had been locked out of power for decades.

But today Turkey is beset by problems. In the shadow of the Syrian civil war, jihadists and Kurdish militants are waging campaigns against the state. Last summer the army attempted a coup—probably organised by supporters of an American-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who had penetrated the bureaucracy, judiciary and army in their tens of thousands. The economy, once a strength, is growing slowly, plagued by cronyism, poor management and a collapse in tourism.

Mr Erdogan argues that, to put this right, Turkey needs a new constitution that will generate political stability. He says that only a strong president can galvanise the state and see off its enemies. Naturally, he is talking about himself.

The new constitution embodies the “illiberal democracy” of nationalists such as Viktor Orban of Hungary and Vladimir Putin of Russia, to whom Mr Erdogan is increasingly compared. On this view, election winners take all, constraints are obstacles to strong government and the ruling party has a right to subvert institutions, such as the judiciary and the press.

Yet this kind of stability is hollow. The most successful democracies make a point of separating powers and slowing governments down. The guiding idea of the American constitution is to stop presidents from acting as if they were monarchs, by building in checks and balances. Even the British prime minister, untrammelled by a written constitution, has to submit herself to the courts, a merciless press and a weekly grilling in Parliament, broadcast live.

Turkey is especially ill-suited to winner-takes-all government. It is divided between secular, religious and nationalist citizens, as well as Turks, Kurds, Alevis and a few remaining Greeks, Armenians and Jews. If the religious-conservative near-majority try to shut out everyone else, just as they were once shut out, Turkey will never be stable.

But the most important argument against majoritarian politics is Mr Erdogan himself. Since the failed coup, he has been governing under a state of emergency that demonstrates how cruelly power can be abused.

The state is entitled to protect its citizens, especially in the face of political violence. But Mr Erdogan has gone far beyond what is reasonable. Roughly 50,000 people have been arrested; 100,000 more have been sacked. Only a fraction of them were involved in the coup. Anyone Mr Erdogan sees as a threat is vulnerable: ordinary folk who went to a Gulenist school or saved with a Gulenist bank; academics, journalists and politicians who betray any sympathy for the Kurdish cause; anybody, including children, who mocks the president on social media. Whatever the result on April 16th, Mr Erdogan will remain in charge, free to use—and abuse—his emergency powers.

During the campaign he accused the Germans and Dutch of “Nazi practices” for stopping his ministers from pitching for expatriate votes. EU voices want to suspend accession talks—which, in any case, are moribund. Before long, the talk may even turn to sanctions. Some in the West will point to Turkey’s experience to claim that Islam and democracy cannot coexist. But to give up on that idea would be to give up on Turkey itself.

The fault is not so much with political Islam—many AK members and voters are uneasy with the new constitution. It is with Mr Erdogan and his inner circle. Although he is a religious man, he is better seen as an old-fashioned authoritarian than as a new-fangled Islamist. The distinction matters because AK, or an Islamist party like it, is bound to feature in Turkey’s democracy. Mr Erdogan, however, will one day leave the stage, taking his authoritarian instincts with him.

Hold him close

Hence the outside world should not give up on Turkey, but be patient. Partly, this is self-interest. As a NATO member and a regional power, Turkey is too important to cut adrift. It will play a vital part in any peace in Syria. Driving it into Russia’s arms makes no sense. Turkey has also been a conduit for refugees into the EU as well as vital in controlling their inflow. The refugee situation is in flux: the EU will need to keep talking to Turkey about how to cope with the resulting instability.

Engagement is also in Turkey’s interests. The EU is its biggest trading partner. Contact with it bolsters the Western-leaning Turks who are likely to be Mr Erdogan’s most potent opposition. NATO membership can moderate the next generation of officers in its armed forces. Although Turkey will not join the EU for many years, if ever, a looser EU, with several classes of member or associate country, might one day find room for it.

Turkey will remain pivotal after April 16th. If Mr Erdogan loses, Turkey will be a difficult ally with a difficult future. But if he wins, he will be able to govern as an elected dictator.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “The slide into dictatorship”

 http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21720590-recep-tayyip-erdogan-carrying-out-harshest-crackdown-decades-west-must-not-abandon?fsrc=scn/tw/te/rfd/pe

Egypt’s Coptic Christians to celebrate Easter Mass amid heavy security after twin bombings last week — Christians in Koum el-Loufy were attacked by Muslims on Friday

April 15, 2017

AFP

© MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP | A general view shows the Monastery of Marmina in the city of Borg El-Arab, east of Alexandria on April 10, 2017.

Egyptian Copts will celebrate Easter mass on Saturday, marking one of Christianity’s most joyous occasions just days after the deadliest attacks in living memory against the country’s religious minority.

The faithful will spend a large part of Easter eve going through arduous security checks outside places of worship, after twin Palm Sunday bombings killed 45 people in two cities north of Cairo.

The government has declared a state of emergency and called in the army to protect “vital” installations following the suicide bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

“Security has indeed improved so much as it seems the situation needed to be tightened up a lot,” said Coptic Church spokesman Boulos Halim.

Coptic Pope Tawadros II will lead Easter mass in Cairo’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral, while the church said celebrations this year would be scaled back.

“Tanta and Alexandria created a big shock, for all of Egypt,” Halim said.

Easter, which along with Christmas is one of Christianity’s most important events, marks the resurrection of Christ three days after followers believe he was crucified.

In Egypt, Copts break a 55-day fast abstaining from all animal products following Saturday’s mass.

The Sunday bombings were the latest in a series of attacks against Egypt’s Copts, which make up around 10 percent of the population.

In December, an IS suicide bomber struck a Cairo church, killing 29 people.

Halim said the church will forgo Sunday morning’s traditional celebrations, and instead members will visit the families of “martyrs” as well as those wounded in the blasts, including police officers.

“Even if we are in pain over them parting their bodies… the happiness of resurrection helps us overcome feelings of pain,” said Halim.

Further attacks feared

IS, which has waged an insurgency in the north of the Sinai Peninsula that has seen scores of attacks on security forces, has issued repeated calls for atrocities against Copts.

One Copt who gave his name only as John said he will attend Easter mass despite the heightened security risk.

He plans to go to a church in the relative safety of the capital, but admitted “if I were somewhere else outside of Cairo, like a village, I would not want my relatives to go and I would be worried about attending”.

In a village south of Cairo, some Christians were reportedly prevented from holding Good Friday prayers, and police deployed to prevent further unrest.

Christians in Koum el-Loufy were attacked by Muslims after they tried to pray in an abandoned home on Thursday, after which a mob set fire to four homes nearby, according to police officials.

While the village boasts several mosques, Christians there have been prevented from building a church, Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights told AFP.

“Probably they won’t be able to pray on Saturday either,” said Ibrahim.

“There is a general climate where Copts are being persecuted and unfortunately the state just tries to stop violence from spreading, they don’t solve the root cause of the problem.”

(AFP)

Date created : 2017-04-15

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© AFP / by Tony Gamal-Gabriel | Mourners pray next to coffins of the victims of the blast at the Coptic Christian Saint Mark’s church the previous day during a funeral procession east of Alexandria on April 10, 2017

© Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP (file photo) | Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard on Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square on January 25, 2016.

Relatives of a Christian woman who was killed in the bombing of Cairo's main Coptic cathedral carry her casked in Cairo on Monday.
Relatives of a Christian woman who was killed in the bombing of Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral carry her casked in Cairo on December 14, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
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Members of the special police forces stand guard to secure the area around St. Mark"s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo

The building bombed in December 2016 is next to St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, seat of the church’s pope. Reuters Photo

A Christian employee at Cairo's Coptic Cathedral checks for damage from the blast after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo

The interior of the church, where Christians had gathered, was also hit in the explosion. AP photo

Image result for Reina nightclub attack, photos

Islamist gunman Abdulgadir Masharipov killed 39 people  in the Reina nightclub shooting on January 1, 2017, in Istanbul. © Dogan News Agency/AFP/File

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David Dosha, the priest of the Church of Mart Shmoni, located in the Christian Iraqi town of Bartella. (Safin Hamed/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

An Iraqi Christian forces member lights a candle at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on October 30, 2016 in the town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), 30 kms east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (AFP/ SAFIN HAMED)
An Iraqi Christian forces member lights a candle at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on October 30, 2016 in the town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), 30 kms east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (AFP/ SAFIN HAMED)
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A photo of Priest Jacques Hamel taken from the website of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray parish84 year-old Father Jacques Hamel was giving morning Mass when the Islamist attackers stormed his church. AFP

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The Isis jihadist group