Turkey set for new ‘anti-terror’ law after emergency

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech to MPs of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, July 7, 2018. (File Photo:AP/Burhan Ozbilici)
Updated 16 July 2018
0

Turkey set for new ‘anti-terror’ law after emergency

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s ruling party on Monday submitted to parliament a new “anti-terror” bill that would bolster the powers of the authorities in detaining suspects and imposing public order even after the current two-year state of emergency ends.
The state of emergency, imposed in the wake of the July 2016 failed coup aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been extended seven times and seen tens of thousands arrested.
With the government indicating that no new extension will be sought after Erdogan won a new mandate in June 24 presidential elections, the emergency is due to end overnight Wednesday to Thursday.
But state-run Anadolu news agency said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had submitted amendments to existing laws to parliament to deal with the “fight against terror after the state of emergency.”
Turkey considers itself to be simultaneously fighting several groups deemed by Ankara to be terror outfits, including Islamic State (IS) jihadists, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the 2016 putsch bid.
Under the proposed new legislation, authorities will be able to prohibit individuals exiting and entering a defined area for 15 days on security grounds, Anadolu said.
It says a suspect can be held without charge for 48 hours or up to four days in the case of multiple offenses.
But this period can be extended up to twice if there is difficulty in collecting evidence or if the case is deemed to be particularly voluminous.
The head of the AKP’s parliamentary group Bulent Turan said that the 28-article bill had been sent to opposition parties and expressed hope that it would be put to a vote next week.
The AKP fell short of a majority in the 600-seat parliament in the polls but is able to push through legislation with the support of its hard right allies, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
“The state of emergency is going to end in the next days. But the end of the state of emergency does not mean our fight against terror is going to come to an end,” said Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul.


Pastor talks of breakdown in Turkey, but also of forgiveness

Trump was insistent on Brunson’s release without conditions. (AP)
Updated 21 October 2018
0

Pastor talks of breakdown in Turkey, but also of forgiveness

  • Brunson was accused of links to Kurdish militants and a US-based Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016

VIRGINIA BEACH: The American pastor recently released after two years of confinement in Turkey said on Friday that he suffered a breakdown during his time in prison and was put on anti-anxiety medication.
Andrew Brunson said he was deprived of books — even a Bible — for long stretches of time. For eight months, he spent 24 hours a day with more than 20 men in a cell designed for eight.
But the worst of it, he said, was the uncertainty. The pastor who had led a small congregation faced the possibility of life in a Turkish prison if convicted on charges of terrorism and related counts, accusations he still calls “ridiculous.”
“I didn’t do very well,” Brunson said of living in the crowded prison cell. “It was very high stress, and I was sleeping three to four hours maximum a day. And I was really struggling a great deal. I didn’t know how long this would continue. I didn’t know why I was in prison.”
He added: “I really had a breakdown emotionally. And I received medication for anxiety because I was just a basket case.”
Sitting next to his wife, Norine, Brunson spoke inside the Virginia Beach headquarters of the Christian Broadcasting Network after an interview on “The 700 Club,” among other CBN shows. The network closely followed his ordeal, which became a cause celebre for evangelical Christians as well as President Donald Trump.
Earlier this month, Brunson was convicted in Turkey and sentenced to more than three years in prison. But he was freed and allowed to leave for the two years he had already spent in custody. For the past few months, he had been on house arrest.
Brunson was accused of links to Kurdish militants and a US-based Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016.
Upon his return, Brunson, 50, visited the White House and placed his hand on Trump’s shoulder in prayer before asking God to provide the president “supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him.”
Trump was insistent on Brunson’s release without conditions. And the president maintained there was no deal for Brunson’s freedom.
Brunson said on Friday that he was unaware of any deals. And he pointed out that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously suggested trading Brunson for Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Turkey of engineering a failed coup in 2016. The swap was never made.
The Brunsons, who spent 25 years in Turkey, said they still love the country but cannot return any time soon. They said they do not know what is next, but they view their ordeal as part of God’s plan.
“We haven’t done anything great,” Brunson said. “But for so many people in so many countries to be praying for us, this is something that God did. It was not just to bless me. He’s using that to bless Turkey.”
In the meantime, the couple is still recovering from the past two years, which included Norine Brunson’s arrest with her husband and the two weeks she spent with him in prison.
She was released and allowed to stay in the country while he was shipped around to various prisons. Their children, then ages 15, 18 and 21, were in the US and have remained there.
The Brunsons said they still do not know why the Turkish government made its accusations. Their missionary work was legal and out in the open for more than two decades.
But they said they were American Christians, who are viewed with suspicion in Turkey. And they were there after the failed coup.
Brunson said Turkish authorities never offered any proof to support the charges — no emails, no social media postings or recordings.
But people the Brunsons had known testified against him. It is something the pastor is still processing.
“It’s not an option not to forgive; we are required to as Christians,” Brunson said. “Is it easy? No. But God forgave me. As I get emotions that come back, I say, ‘I forgive.’”