Turkey Coup and Democracy

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Coups are often staged in order to effect a certain level of change in the society. The coups tend to be means of improving the overall human right conditions. However, some nations may enforce coups for the sake of having a deeper control of the government. Regardless of how the coups are conducted, there is a significant impact on the economic standing of the nation. There is always some level of violation of human rights and democracy when the military conducts a coup. This has been manifested in the recent Turkey coup.

Turkey underwent a failed coup attempt in July 2016. The coup was staged by military elements in a bid to oust the current government and enforce a military rule. This move failed significantly due to the public reaction whereby hey decided to move into the streets and resist the use of military power to control the country. The perception was that the use of military power would contribute towards the overall failure of the democracy. Its impact has come as a shock to most of the people in the world with the global leaders calling for the use of proper controls. Its effect has been the massive violation of human rights and miscarriage of democracy.

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Before the coup, the major opposition parties came in together in an attempt to oust the democratically elected government. This move was seen as the only resort that the people could have in order for them to be heard by the government.  This may have had an impetus on the overall development of the coup over the period. 

The public reaction that manifested in the decision by the mass to move out to the streets in order for them to resist the imposed government contributed to the death toll. The government reacted with a show of force. The people who were in favor of the move to oust the government often clashed with the rest of the country. The police were also involved in extrajudicial killings at that point. The results of the coup were the death of over 246 people according to the government’s report. However, the majority of the people killed during the coup were civilians. The military officers made only a fourth of the total death toll. More than 2000 people were wounded during the events that came in the aftermath of the coup(Ward, 2016). These numbers indicate a certain direction of the coup. Most of the people to be harmed were the innocent civilians who were protesting the decision by the military to take away their democratic right to vote for the government of the day.

The first days of the coup were in a manner difficult for the majority of the people. The government felt threatened by the possibility of being ousted in the second attack. This resulted in a decision to move against any person that was suspected to be sympathetic to the cause. The purge is what has contributed to the massive deterioration of human rights in the country. 

The purge has been conducted in the martial law manner. For instance, there are people who are innocent on the list of suspected sympathizers. These people have not been accorded the right to a fair trial(Ward, 2016). Hence, the government has been pushing for the overall disruption of the lives that these people lead without any regard of the possibility of innocence. The ability to use the rule of law in the conduction of any investigation is a major determinant of the chances that the individual has to be effectively punished for his crimes. The current modus operandi has been to disregard the possibility of using the rule of law. At the end, the government has been contributing towards the overall decline of democracy that the country had gained over the years. 

The purge has a major effect on the devilment of the chances of being fairly represented. For instance, most of the institutions have been affected(Ward, 2016).  The government has been looking for co-conspirators in the entire system, for instance, the police, judiciary and prosecution office have been targeted. These institutions are crucial for the development and sustenance of a democratic country. Hence, the effects of the coup has been far-reaching and will affect how the future of the country turns out to be as far as democracy is concerned.  Ironically, the democracy that the people took to the streets in order for them to defend has been challenged by the purge (Weatherby, 2017). Widespread dismissal of the crucial officers in government has resulted in an autocratic system of government(Ward, 2016). The autocracy will possibly extend into the near future. The ability to be effective in promoting the resurgence of democracy will be missing to the majority of the people. At the end, the ability of the country to bounce back may be hinged entirely on the willingness of the global governments to intervene.

The approach that the government has been using since the events that led to the coup took place have been indiscriminate. There have been efforts to interfere with virtually every part of the government. One of the noticeable moves was the decision by the government to close radio stations and other media outlet. In order for the democracy to be restored, the access to information is called for. The governmenttoTurkey decided to close the stations even if they were not involved directly in the organization and development of the coup. This means that the government is not planning on the restoration of democracy. The coup had been organized by the military. However, since some of the stations are critical of the way the government has been running its affairs, they have been targeted. This is the story with other major institutions needed for the enforcement or restoration of democratic rule in the country. The above move by the government could be a mirror to development of more blatant disrespect of the human rights going into the future. 

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Another impact of the coup on Turkish democracy was the decision to use executive power without the need to enforce any checks and balance(Ward, 2016). the government naturally had to issue the  state of emergency after the coup in order for the peace to be restored. However, the government has divided to ride on the effects of the coup such that it has decided to waive the role of other institutions such as the parliament in ensuring that there is political accountability.

Being able to control the exercises and excesses of the executive branch is a major part of ensuring that there is a democracy (Öniş, 2015). The enforcement of the decree to waive the cheeks also extends to the high courts of the country. The highest court cannot check the government. Since the coup was short lives, the excessive use of the tool resulted in a mistrust of the government that the people had fought for. Part of the actions that could have required oversight includes the decision by the government to impose extraordinary pauses on the   European convention on human rights(Ward, 2016). The convention protects the people from being tortured or arrested for no reason. The only aspect of the convention that is still in force is the ban on torture. 

Since the coup, the government has been displaying an unfettered desire to act without any restraint. Immediately after the coup, the government acted in a dictatorial manner by issuing an emergency decree. The first emergency decree ordered for the closure of private institutions such as hospitals, schools, and associations(Ward, 2016). This move was uncalled for since the government had been affected by the military attempt to do away with the sitting government. The private institutions were targeted since they were linked to the opposition and there was a belief that the opposition had been behind the military’s decision to attempt the coup. Additionally, the decree made room for the immediate discharge of the judges and prosecutors.

The first decree went further to increase the powers of the police force. The police force had the right to detain the suspects for a period extending to thirty days (Öniş, 2017). The detention would be geared towards investigations and forcing of the supposed suspect into a confession. The decree allows for the people to communicate with their respective lawyers. Hoverer, the privacy that any suspect is entitled to when interacting with a lawyer is largely nonexistent anymore.

The government later issued the second executive decree(Ward, 2016). The decree allowed the prosecutors to deny any detainer access to a lawyer for the first five days he or she is in detention. This means that the individual detained will be subject to a lot of mistreatment while in custody. Most of the detained military officials have been subject to torture at the hands of the police.

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There has been a general increase in the number and frequency of witch hunts conducted by the police. Most of the detained individuals are linked or assumed to be linked to the Fethullah Gulen movement.  The cleric has been linked to the recent coup with the accusers arguing that the funds the movement and have been running a network of schools. The schools were the ones that were targeted during the massive closures. The cleric has since out to argue that he is innocent of planning any movement in the country(Ward, 2016). The government has not been able to substantiate the claim that indeed the cleric is involved in the creation of the movement.  The mere perception of guilt has resulted in the branding of the cleric as the face of the coup attempt. This comes even after there is evidence that the ruling party had prior connections to the cleric. Some of the people who are linked to the coup were in the pre-prepared list of the would suspect.

Any government has the right to control prosecution for any individual suspected of planning high treason. The prosecution of any person that attempts to overthrow a rightfully elected government is not covered under the conventional human rights declarations. The expectation of any democratic government is that the treason proceedings are conducted in a fair manner and in line with the common standards of proof. This has not been the case in Turkey.

The government is most likely going to keep up with the blatant disregard of human rights. The first onset of the opportunity to deal with coup organizers was legitimate/ however, the government at Ankara has been working towards the effective elimination of the different voices over the years (Ward, 2016). At the end, the overall capability to be effective in the future will be dependent on the ability of the government to lay off the abuse of executive power and restoration of peace. The global community also has to consider the intervention in order for the turkey attacks to cease. The institutions such as media and law courts have been crippled. They ought to be restored in order for any semblance of democracy to be achieved. Most of the institutions will require being created with the people in mind. The longevity of the country has not been considered by the current government. The the International community is desperate to retain the country as the next operating base for wars in the Middle East. This has in part contributed to the continued development of instances where the human rights are to be violated. The rampant deaths that were incurred in order for the people to self-determine have in turn been converted into conditions for the sustained denial of democracy(Ward, 2016). This is largely the largest determinant of the future of the country. 

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  1. Esen, B., & Gumuscu, S. (2017). Turkey: How the Coup Failed. Journal of Democracy, 28(1), 59-73.
  2. Öniş, Z. (2017). Democratic consolidation in Turkey: micro and macro challenges.
  3. Öniş, Z. (2015). Monopolising the centre: The AKP and the uncertain path of Turkish democracy. The International Spectator, 50(2), 22-41.
  4. Ward, B. (2016, August 3). The Government Response to Turkey?s Coup Is an Affront to Democracy. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/08/03/government-response-turkeys-coup-affront-democracy
  5. Weatherby, P. (2017, September 7). Ironically, Erdogan has done exactly what the failed coup wanted to do in Turkey. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/turkey-erdogan-failed-coup-gulen-democracy-trials-human-rights-a7934171.html
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