Global alarm grows as 50,000 hit by Turkey ANKARA: Turkey faced fresh accusations it was flouting the rule of law with its purge of 50,000 people after an attempted coup, as the president gathered security chiefs on Wednesday for the first time since the putsch.
Authorities have rounded up or sacked tens of thousands of police, judges, teachers and other civil servants from across the state bureaucracy in the aftermath of Friday’s failed bid to seize power by disgruntled elements in the military.
But the purge has sparked an outpouring of global concern with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman saying: “nearly every day we are seeing new measures that flout the rule of law and that disregard the principle of proportionality.”
The putsch left more than 300 dead and caused scenes of devastation, especially in Ankara where raids by fighter jets and attack helicopters turned parts of parliament and the police headquarters to rubble.
The president returned to the capital late on Tuesday for the first time since the coup and chaired meetings of his national security council, composed of top military brass and security ministers, and the cabinet, at his presidential palace.
Erdogan was in the Aegean resort of Marmaris when the coup struck and then, narrowly escaping the rebel soldiers, flew to Istanbul where he had stayed since, appearing before crowds of flag-waving supporters each night in “vigils” for democracy.
He told supporters in Istanbul on Monday that “an important decision” would be announced after the security meeting, without specifying — fuelling fears that the government may impose even tougher security measures.
About 9,300 people have been detained, including 118 generals and admirals accused of treason for allegedly masterminding the plot as well as soldiers, police and judges.
The number of state education ministry personnel suspended has risen by some 6,000 to nearly 22,000, according to reports.
Also, 21,000 people working in private education will have their licences removed and banned from teaching in the future. Even the sports ministry has dismissed 245 personnel.
Turkey’s higher education council also banned academics from work trips abroad and urged those overseas to return home quickly.
The moves amplified international concern Erdogan was using the coup plot as a pretext to crack down on opponents, with Turkey’s Western allies urging the authorities in the strategic Nato state to obey the rule of law.
Erdogan’s suggestion that the death penalty could be reinstated has sent shockwaves through Europe, with the EU warning such a move would be the nail in the coffin of Turkey’s already embattled bid to join the bloc. MPs have meanwhile carried on working in parliament, despite rubble and shards of glass still covering the floor after three air strikes on the night of the coup.
Ankara’s police headquarters is in an even worse state, with the 10-storey building gutted by repeated air attacks and the air still thick with dust from the rubble.
“I do not know how long the rebuilding will take. But we have started,” a senior police official said.