ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Businesses should welcome Turkey’s state of emergency because it guards against terrorism and prevents workers from going out on strike, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
Parliament this week voted to extend the state of emergency, introduced following a failed coup in July 2016, for a further three months. It is the seventh such extension of emergency rule, which lets Erdogan and the government bypass parliament in passing new laws and allows them to suspend rights and freedoms.
The extensions have been roundly criticised by human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. The country’s main business lobby, TUSIAD, this week renewed its call for a swift end to emergency rule.
“The state of emergency only affects terrorists. Now it’s preventing labour strikes, such as the Bursa strike, which we stopped right away. It’s a struggle against terrorism,” Erdogan said in a speech to the DEIK business lobby, which represents Turkey’s private sector overseas.
“When our business people say the state of emergency should be lifted, it upsets us... We will continue extending it for the peace of our country, yes we will, for the 10th time if necessary.”
Earlier this year authorities stopped workers in the northwestern city of Bursa, home to the auto industry and a hub for textile manufacturing, from going out on strike.
Under emergency rule, strikes, protests and displays of civil disobedience can be shut down on security grounds.
Erdogan this week set snap presidential and parliamentary elections for June, bringing them forward by more than a year in a shock move that may have left the opposition ill-prepared to credibly challenge him.
The United States this week said it had concerns about Turkey’s ability to hold free and fair elections under emergency rule, comments that Ankara dismissed.
The United Nations last month called for an end to the state of emergency, saying it had led to “massive and serious” human rights violations in largely Kurdish southeastern Turkey, including killings and torture.
Turkey slammed that report as rife with unfounded allegations. Ankara says its measures are necessary, given the severity of the security threats it faces.
More than 160,000 people have been detained since the failed coup and a similar number of civil servants sacked from their jobs, the United Nations has said. Scores of media outlets have been shut and journalists and activists have been detained.
Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Gareth Jones