Monday, March 21, 2016
Turkey Is 'One Step Away' From Dictatorial Powers for Erdogan
© AFP 2016/ PATRIK STOLLARZ
Erdogan's new definitions of terrorism could lead to one-man rule, as they threaten to label anyone in disagreement with the ruling a party a "terrorist" in an already polarized political climate.
As Turkey continues to be rocked by terrorist attacks, the country's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed extending the definition of "terrorist" to anyone who supports what the government determines to be terrorism, together with a removal of parliamentary immunity.
Turkey's extremely complex definition of terrorism allows it to target groups, such as Kurds, who are composed of both mainstream politicians seeking change through democratic means, and extremists, who resort to bombings and hostage taking. The new definition of terrorism would allow the government to target lawyers, journalists, activists and lawmakers, judged by Erdogan to be supporters of terror.
"In 2002, when the ruling party came to power, it amended the concept of 'terrorist organization' to take Islamic organizations out of the definition," Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu, founder and president of the Judges Union told Sputnik Turkiye.
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Since then, the definition of terrorism has been refined by Turkey, still falling within the bounds of extremely loose definitions of international law, but more focused on ideas supported by terrorists, rather than their methods.
"What we see now is an initiative to change the interpretation of the term 'terrorism,' aimed to destroy the multipolar society and democratic foundations of the state. This is not a strategy of combating terrorism, quite the opposite, this is an attempt by the authorities to impose their point of view on the population, using fascist methods for that," Eminağaoğlu added.
Pressure on Parliament
The new definition would also allow the government to target lawmakers, whose speech is traditionally protected by parliamentary immunity. This, in turn, could upset Turkey's entire system of government, according to Tarhan Erdem, Chairman of the Konda Research and Consultancy polling agency.
"It appears that the president considers himself a force above parliament. This is an unseen precedent in [Turkey's] political history. <…> Abrupt and critical statements by the president at a time when Turkey is at the epicenter of a crisis strengthen society's polarization even more," Erdem told Sputnik Turkiye.
According to Erdem, Turkey's polarized rhetoric could be the worst the country has seen in its modern history, with labels such as "traitor," "enemy" and "treason" regularly flung at opposition supporters in the country's parliament.
"Turkey is currently one step from complete alienation from democracy. Even in the most difficult periods of its contemporary history, the situation was not heated to the point where it is now," Erdem added.
The current opposition, however, could not be counted on "to put Erdogan in his place," according to Erdem, as the chief opposition parties have lost the trust of the populace.