Turkish authorities removed more than 3900 people from their positions in the civil service and military pursuant to a new national security law published [materials, in Turkish] on Saturday. Those removed included prison guards, clerks, academics, and employees of the religious affairs ministry, all of whom the government alleged [MEE report] had links to terrorist organizations. This is the latest action by the Turkish government since a state of emergency was issued after a failed coup attempt [BBC backgrounder] in July of last year. Also on Saturday, Turkey blocked [JURIST report] the website Wikipedia on the grounds that it posed a threat to national security.
Since a failed coup attempt in July the Turkish government has taken several controversial steps to strengthen its power. In October, Human Rights Watch warned [JURIST report] that the emergency decrees put in place after the failed coup had resulted in serious human rights violations. In February, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights urged [JURIST report] Turkey to “change course and to display the responsibility and tolerance expected in a democratic society.” The commissioner’s document came amid increased scrutiny of Turkey’s treatment of journalists and other members of Turkish society, allegedly leading to the repression of free speech and self-censorship. The Turkish Parliament has approved a plan [JURIST report] to be voted on later this year which would increase presidential power within the country and would allow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stay in office until 2029.