Members of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkish government have moved to assure the international community that Turkey has not fallen into repression and tyranny through television broadcasts and social media, all while smiling cheerfully and making heavy use of emojis.
Turkish authorities under controversial President Tayyip Erdogan have began a significant crackdown in the country, detaining and firing more than 58,000 military personnel, academics and civil servants in a purge which Erdogan’s office has described as “benevolent late spring cleaning”.
Erdogan also said that he expects the state of emergency, during which his government can suspend parliamentary law and human rights, to last at least three months, but insisted in a statement that the measure is merely to allow his government to “take swift revenge… Sorry, I mean measures, against supporters of the deadly coup”.
Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek used his official Twitter account to tell the world that the recently declared state of emergency in the wake of a failed military coup is purely in the interest of regaining stability, though suspicions were raised when he used the hashtag #HelpMe.
Simsek, a former Wall Street broker and entrusted with much international trade negotiations for AK party, is one of many government ministers who have defended the heavy sanctions imposed on their fellow countrymen, particularly in light of international concerns causing the lira to fall so dramatically that in the Turkish market a hot dog is now worth more than Mark Zuckerberg.
Fellow deputy Numan Kurtulmus has been quoted as saying that the country will invoke its right to suspend human rights during its first state of emergency since the 1980s, explaining to NTV: “It’s difficult to bring true justice when you have to get bogged down in silly bureaucratic things like ‘innocent until proven guilty’ or ‘punching isn’t a fair reply’, it’s just common sense.”
Justice Secretary Bekir Bozdag joined the rush to defend Erdogan’s methods, insisting that the purge is being conducted “purely to avoid a second military coup”, which based on information relayed by the Turkish government would be spearheaded by teachers and publicity officers.
All three politicians also echoed Erdogan’s earlier sentiments that the arrest without evidence or warrant of tens of thousands, the illegal detention of suspects in inhumane conditions, the torture and physical abuse that followed and the summary dismissal of individuals from their places of work based on guilt by association were in the interest of “protecting democracy”.
But despite these hugely comforting assurances, there is still much concern over the developing situation, though Erdogan’s government have been remarkably quick to defend the many accusations and worries over matters surrounding the purge and state of emergency in a manner as convincing as it is without clear ulterior motive or dangerous precedent.
When CNN reporter Alton Cardslow noted that the purge seemed awfully elaborate and disciplined for a responsive measure to an unexpected coup d’etat, a spokesman for Erdogan replied: “We’re very open in Turkey, very secular, everyone knows what everyone else is doing and believes in”.
Fears over the treatment of prisoners were also raised, particularly in light of images emerging which show air force commander Akin Oturk, who is accused of masterminding the coup, visibly beaten and bloodied in custody, to which the spokesperson commented: “He fell down some stairs – should have been more careful.”
President Erdogan has been criticised in recent times for his intention to re-institutionalise Islamism in Turkey, particularly in education, and his desire to bring back the death penalty despite the impossibility of this under human rights conventions, but his officials were very quick to dismiss claims that he was a “power hungry, bloodthirsty demagogue” despite nobody saying that he was.
Hamzat Oktay, who is understood to be the only civil servant left employed in the country, told journalists assembled on the Turkey-Georgia border that the country under Erdogan was still a free one welcome to all, just as long as they weren’t Gulenists or didn’t know any Gulenists and wouldn’t partake in any Gulen-esque activities.
Oktay said: “Yes, it’s true that [Erdogan] wants Islam back in more strongly, and yes it’s true that he has mooted the death penalty, and yes it it’s true that he believes foreign powers aided in the coup, and yes it’s true that he wants Fethullah Gulen extradited from the US without any evidence, and yes it’s true that he wants to reshape the country in his image, and yes it’s true that the state of emergency gives him free reign, and yes it’s true that he’s talked about revenge, and yes it’s true that his reaction to the coup was suspiciously well planned, and yes it’s true that people’s lives have been ruined on the ground of little actual real proof, but… Sorry, I lost my train of thought.”