Turkey gives additional power to neighbourhood guards; experts oppose

WION Web Team
Istanbul, Turkey Published: Jun 11, 2020, 05:05 PM(IST)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The guard force, which has been a part of Turkish culture since Ottoman era, was revived by the President in 2017 -- a year after an attempted military coup.

Turkey's population is scared to step out of their houses at night now, as the infamous night-time neighbourhood guard force was granted wider power on Thursday.

The guards, called Night Eagles, will now will have the authority to demand people to identify themselves, to use force and carry weapons and to apprehend suspects.

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This decision, that was taken overnight, garnered a lot of criticism from the opposition party -- Republican People's Party.

The opposition and experts are against giving power in hands of Night Eagles, as these guards, allegedly, go through a training of merely 40 days.

"You cannot give someone a gun and send them into the street with broad authority after 40 days of training," Engin Altay, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party, said last week.

The opposition also voiced their concern about the limited knowledge of these guards about human rights, as there won't be enough time to train them about human rights violations.

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"This law is not about protecting the people or the district. It is a law to protect the state from the people," said Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

The guard force, which has been a part of Turkish culture since Ottoman era, was revived by the President in 2017 -- a year after an attempted military coup.

Police data shows that last year the number of police officers in Turkey rose 7.9% to more than 260,000 with the number of neighbourhood guards nearly doubling to more than 21,000. This year the number of guards is set to rise to 30,000, according to one AKP deputy.

The government has defended this decision sighting the decrease of daily burglaries by 47% since the force was revitalised. The Interior Ministry also claimed that the guards undergo three months of training, and two months of practical training.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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