On a flight back from India this week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the West for criticizing Turkey’s state of emergency, in place since the botched coup attempt in July 2016. Speaking to journalists accompanying him on the trip, he said, “The West, which fails to see the state of emergency in France, is attempting to criticize a process that we are carrying out in tranquility. What has the state of emergency in Turkey done? Has it taken away anything from [businesspeople]? Has it affected businesses?” He argued that without the state of emergency, the authorities would have failed to have struggled as well as they have against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara calls the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization (FETO) and holds responsible for the coup attempt.
Given the suspension of basic rights and freedoms, associating the state of emergency with social peace is simply ironic, not to mention that Ankara is flouting even the constitutional limits for the use of emergency-rule powers. For Turkish citizens of a certain age, today’s atmosphere evokes the scary climate of the military rule after the 1980 coup, when the campaign of suppression was called a “tranquility operation.”