Turkey's opposition has slammed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over its efforts to extend the duration of the current anti-terrorism law for another three years.
The current anti-terrorism law came into effect in 2018, when the state of emergency ended two years after the failed coup attempt of 2016, widely believed to have been organized by the Gülen network, referred to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said at the time that the end of the state of emergency does not mean Turkey's “fight against terror would come to an end.”
The new law helped the government to keep many emergency powers in place, as it allowed public institutions to dismiss civil servants under conditions similar to the state of emergency if they are thought to be connected to terror groups.
The law also allowed officials to prohibit citizens from entering or leaving an area for 15 days, while police were given the authority to hold detainees for up to 12 days without a specific charge.
The legislation was drafted so that it would be valid for three years, but the omnibus bill submitted by the AKP to parliament last week seeks to extend the duration of the law for another three years.
“This proposes a change in the regime of law. Are we going to be governed by an extraordinary law regime in the ordinary law system?” said main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) MP İbrahim Kaboğlu.
“Five years have passed since the coup [of 2016], are you aware of this? We are still living in a regime of state of emergency,” said Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP Garo Paylan.
“In 2013, we are going to elections. Are we going to enter the elections under a state of emergency?” asked İYİ (Good) Party MP Durmuş Yılmaz.
CHP adviser Erdoğan Toprak slammed the AKP over its move, saying it is using the fight against the Gülen network as an excuse to establish an environment of oppression.
“This omnibus law regulation is a concrete manifestation that the rulership understood it would be soon going away,” he said, adding that the AKP's “fear of democracy and elections” have become much more visible.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) MP Mustafa Kalaycı defended the government's move, saying: “There are still arrests with regards to FETÖ members. In this sense, this is a good regulation. Turkey needs to get rid of the trouble of FETÖ.”
The omnibus bill is being discussed at the parliament's Planning and Budget Commission and is expected to be ratified by parliament this week.
The AKP and its ally MHP hold a majority in the 600-member parliament.