News / Europe

    Turkey to Consider Return of Capital Punishment

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of Muslim religious leaders from Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 19. 2012.Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of Muslim religious leaders from Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 19. 2012.
    x
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of Muslim religious leaders from Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 19. 2012.
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of Muslim religious leaders from Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 19. 2012.
    The Turkish Prime Minister has put the return of capital punishment up for consideration, claiming there is widespread support in the country for it especially in cases of terrorism. Turkey is experiencing a resurgence in fighting by the Kurdish rebel group the PKK, whose leader is incarcerated in a Turkish prison.

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a series of speeches over the last few weeks, has pushed the idea of bringing back the death penalty.

    He said in the face of deaths and murders, the death penalty should,if necessary, be brought back to the table for discussion. Erdogan made the comments at a rally of party supporters earlier this month.
     
    Turkey formally abolished the death penalty in 2004, although the last execution took place in 1984 during military rule. The prime minister’s statement comes amid a resurgence in fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.  

    Cengiz Aktar is a political columnist for the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman.

    "He probably intends (to address) the families who are losing their children in the combat on the Turkish army side. Of course he is (in) total contradiction (of) what he said in 2001, when he was in opposition and the party was fresh and there he was clearly for the abolition of the death penalty. After ten years he has regressed completely," Aktar said.

    A main factor behind the change in the stance of the prime minister is the 2014 presidential election, according to political scientist Yuksel Taskin of Istanbul’s Marmara University.
     
    "The most important thing is to capture (the) presidential post and turn the system into a presidential system or semi-presidential system; he needs nationalist votes according to his calculations," Taskin said.

    Erdogan needs the support of the Nationalist Action Party to achieve a two-thirds parliamentary majority to change the country’s constitution to introduce a presidential system.   And the nationalist party has been in the forefront of demanding the return of the death penalty and, in particular, the execution of the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.  

    Ocalan was sentenced to death but it was commuted to life in prison after capital punishment was abolished. On the streets of Istanbul there are mixed feelings about the prime minister’s call for the return of the death penalty.

    "I support the prime minister, I think he is right," one woman said. "It would be better if we had it." (death penalty).
     
    But another man thinks Turkey should look to Europe as a way forward.

    "Its not something useful, in the Western countries what they do, we can do the same thing in Turkey as well," he said.
     
    Turkey abolished the death penalty as part of its bid to join the European Union.  European politicians have already warned Ankara not to even consider its re-introduction. But with Ankara’s membership bid all but frozen, the international community has little influence, warns columnist Cengiz Aktar.

    "The prime minister is ready to take every single foreign challenge and disregard them for the sake of his presidency and he does not care less of anything. And the European leverage does not exist anymore and the Americans are considering Turkey and its government as the best of the worst in the region. Therefore he feels he has a blank check from the entire world," Aktar said.

    For now the prime minister’s call for the return of the death penalty is being treated by much of the Turkish media as largely political rhetoric. But observers point out any further escalation in fighting by the Kurdish rebels in the environment of a presidential election and with few checks on the prime minister’s power makes Turkey a country whose actions are increasingly difficult to predict.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora