Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a three-month emergency in the country after the failed coup attempt that rattled the country last week.
Erdogan said the measure was being taken to counter threats to Turkish democracy.
“The aim is to rapidly and effectively take all steps needed to eliminate the threat against democracy, the rule of law and the people’s rights and freedoms…This measure is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms…On the contrary it aims to protect and strengthen them” Erdogan said after meeting his cabinet ministers and top security advisers.
In the last week, the Turkish government has been cracking the whip on several military officers, retired judges, media organisations and the education system in an attempt to ‘purge’ the country post the coup attempt.
“As the commander in chief, I will also attend to it so that all the viruses within the armed forces will be cleansed,” Erdogan warned.
The coup attempt was made by a faction of the Turkish army late on Friday night. In a televised video message, Erdogan had asked his supporters to foil the attempt by protesting on the streets. It is only then that the security forces and the protesters loyal to the government quashed the rebellion.
Post the coup attempt, Turkey claimed that it cracked the whip on alleged subversives in education. The government said it has fired nearly 22,000 education ministry workers, mostly teachers, taken steps to revoke the licenses of 21,000 other teachers at private schools and sacked or detained half a dozen university presidents in a campaign to root out alleged supporters of a US-based Muslim cleric blamed for the botched coup attempt.
The government also said it would close more than 600 private schools and dormitories. This has sparked fear that the state is throwing key institutions in the NATO ally into disarray.
Erdogan is said to be cracking down on the education sector because he believes that the US-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whose followers run a worldwide network of schools, seeks to infiltrate the Turkish education system and other institutions in order to bend the country to his will.
Meanwhile, the cleric’s movement, which espouses moderation and multi-faith harmony, says it is a scapegoat for what it describes as the president’s increasingly autocratic conduct.
Earlier, Erdogan suggested in an interview with the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV network that the coup plotters might still be active in the weeks ahead.
“I don’t think we have come to the end of it yet,” the President had said.
In the past, Turkey had imposed martial law-like emergency rule in the southeast region of the country between 1987 and 2002. During the emergency years, the authorities were allowed to set curfews, issue search and arrest warrants and restrict gatherings as the security forces fought Kurdish rebels in the region.
(With inputs from agencies)