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Erdogan's 'soldiers' and their threat to dissent

After a controversial decree introducing judicial immunity for citizens involved in the suppression of terrorist acts, many in Turkey are concerned that it will be used to shield pro-government vigilantes.

A legislative decree by the Turkish government granting judicial immunity to civilians involved in the suppression of terrorist acts has rekindled suspicions and concerns about pro-government “militia forces” taking shape in the country. The emergence of dubious groups that consider President Recep Tayyip Erdogan their “commander in chief,” coupled with the impunity provision introduced Dec. 24, is seen by many as a mounting threat to opposition quarters and expressions of dissent.

The government maintains that the impunity decree is meant to protect ordinary citizens who took to the streets against the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, although no one has faced charges for such actions. According to the opposition, the vague wording of the order makes it applicable to future events and is intended to shield attacks on anti-government protests.

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