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Turkey abuses state of emergency power to crack down on dissent, opposition leader warns

TURKEY is abusing emergency powers to crack down on dissent in the country, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu warned today.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) head made the remarks following reports that the government was set to extend the state of emergency that has been in place since July 2016.

It is the seventh time that it has been extended since first being introduced to deal with the aftermath of a failed military coup.

The emergency powers have since been used to consolidate the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has described the coup attempt as “a gift from God.”

Since July 2016, more than 100,000 public-sector workers have been dismissed from their posts, while thousands of academics have been purged for signing a petition calling for a negotiated peace settlement to end the decades-long conflict with Turkey’s Kurds.

Opposition politicians have been jailed under the state of emergency, many of them on charges of terrorism. People’s Democratic Party (HDP) former co-leader Selahattin Demirtas was on trial in Ankara today and could face a 142-year prison term.

Addressing a meeting of CHP mayors in Konya, Mr Kilicdaroglu said: “Why are you continuing the state of emergency? For dissent, for those who voice dissident opinions.”

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutors’ office is preparing the case for the removal of Mr Kilicdaroglu’s immunity from parliamentary prosecution so that charges can be brought against him for “insulting” President Erdogan. If convicted, he could received a four-year jail sentence.

Mr Kilicdaroglu has accused the president of personally ordering prosecutors to file proceedings against him to silence opposition voices.

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