Turkey suspended thousands of police officers on Monday, widening a purge of the armed forces and judiciary after a failed military coup, and raising concern among European allies and the US that it was abandoning the rule of law.
Turkey dismissed almost 9,000 officials including a massive number of police officers after a failed coup targeting the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the state-run Anadolu news agency said citing the interior ministry, AFP reported.
A total of 8,777 public personnel including 7,899 police, one provincial governor and 29 governors of towns have been dismissed, the ministry said.
They also include 614 members of the police force that looks after domestic security, it added.
Turkey has cracked down on coup plotters that left over 290 dead, as Erdogan pointed the finger of blame at the supporters of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is believed to wield influence in the police and judiciary.
Thirty regional governors and more than 50 high-ranking civil servants have also been dismissed, CNN Turk said.
Thousands of members of the armed forces, from foot soldiers to commanders, were rounded up on Sunday, some shown in photographs stripped to their underpants and handcuffed on the floors of police buses and a sports hall. Several thousand prosecutors and judges have also been removed.
‘No excuse’ for Turkey
The United States and European Union called on Turkey to respect the rule of law in the crackdown following the attempted coup, US Secretary of State John Kerry said during a visit to Brussels on Monday reported.
“We firmly urge the government of Turkey to maintain calm and stability throughout the country,” Kerry told a news conference with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini after talks with EU foreign ministers.
“And we also urge the government of Turkey to uphold the highest standards of respect for the nation’s democratic institutions and the rule of law.”
Also Mogherini warned the Turkish government against taking steps that would damage the constitutional order.
“We were the first… during that tragic night to say that the legitimate institutions needed to be protected,” she said in Brussels.
“We are the ones saying today rule of law has to be protected in the country,” she added. “There is no excuse for any steps that take the country away from that.”
Erdogan on Sunday told crowds of supporters, called to the streets by the government and by mosques across the country, that parliament must consider their demands to apply the death penalty for the plotters.
“We cannot ignore this demand,” he told a chanting crowd outside his house in Istanbul late on Sunday. “In democracies, whatever the people say has to happen.”
He called on Turks to stay on the streets until Friday, and late into Sunday night his supporters thronged squares and streets, honking horns and waving flags.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz also said it would be unacceptable for Turkey to reintroduce the death penalty, which it abolished in 2004. Abolishing capital punishment was a prerequisite for talks with Turkey on membership of the European Union, to which it still aspires, Reuters reported.
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP opposition, parliament’s third largest party, said it would not support any government proposal to reintroduce the death penalty. The main CHP opposition said the response to the coup attempt must be conducted within the rule of law and that the plotters should face trial.
Send evidence, not allegations
According to AFP, Kerry meanwhile told Turkey it had to produce evidence to support the extradition of exiled Gulen over alleged involvement in the failed coup.
“I urged the foreign minister (Mevlut cavusoglu) to make certain that in whatever portfolio and request they send us, they send us evidence, not allegations,” he said.
“We need to see genuine evidence that withstands the standard of scrutiny that exists in many countries with respect to the system of extradition.”
The US Consulate General in Istanbul said on Monday it expected demonstrations near its facilities and it warned American citizens to avoid the area, Reuters reported.
Turkey is demanding that the United States extradite Gulen, whom it says was behind the coup attempt. Gulen denied involvement.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the country has documents detailing the responsible parties of the failed coup attempt.
The coup plotters had detailed plans on who would take ministerial posts and who would act as the head of martial law, Yildirim said in comments after a cabinet meeting.
He also said that investigations were still underway and detentions within security forces continue.