Turkish President Erdogan declares state of emergency

ISTANBUL, Turkey, July 21 (UPI) — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday declared a state of emergency after the country’s failed military coup.

Erdogan told the nation the state of emergency would last three months and that “all the viruses within the armed forces will be cleansed.”

The Turkish government under Erdogan has now arrested, fired or suspended a total of more than 50,000 people in its post-coup d’etat attempt crackdown.

Turkish media report that 15,200 teachers and other education staff have been fired; 1,577 university deans have been forced to resign; 8,777 interior ministry employees have been suspended or fired; 1,500 finance ministry staff have been fired; 257 employees of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s office have been fired; over 6,000 military personnel have been arrested; 9,000 police officers have been fired; and 3,000 judges have been suspended.

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Erdogan said he will bring back the death penalty if the public wants it.

The declaration, legal under the Turkish constitution and approved by parliament, still raises concerns about human rights in the country.

Erdogan defended the declaration after a meeting with his cabinet and national security council.

“State of emergency is not against democracy, the rule of law and freedom,” Erdogan said.

The degree with which Erdogan’s government is cracking down on opposition has raised “serious alarm” for U.N. high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein.

“In the aftermath of such a traumatic experience, it is particularly crucial to ensure that human rights are not squandered in the name of security and in the rush to punish those perceived to be responsible,” he said.

“The mass suspension or removal of judges is cause for serious alarm,” Hussein said. “Reports that many have been subject to detention orders also raises concerns of arbitrary detention.”

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