The Interior Ministry, responsible for the maintenance of internal security as well as for the protection of public order in Turkey, fulfills this function through the General Command of the Gendarmerie, the Directorate of National Security and the Coast Guard Command.
The principal agencies devoted to internal security and law enforcement are the National Police and the gendarmerie, both headquartered in Ankara and both administered by the Ministry of Interior. Broadly, the National Police handles police functions (including traffic control) in the cities and towns, and the gendarmerie serves principally as a rural constabulary. In times of crisis, the prime minister can direct the chief of the General Staff to assist the police and gendarmerie in maintaining internal security. The gendarmerie is regarded as a military security force; during wartime or in areas placed under martial law, it functions under the army.
The performance of the Turkish police has been the subject of persistent criticism for violations of fundamental human rights. These problems, which have received growing international and domestic attention, involve torture during questioning, incommunicado detention, politically motivated disappearances, "mystery killings," and excessive use of force. Successive governments have repeatedly promised to curb abuses by the security forces.
At one time the Gulenist organization was believed by many Turks to control the Turkish National Police (TNP). While perhaps only 20 percent of TNP officers are members of the Gulenist organization, the TNP leadership was dominated by Gulenists. While it is impossible to estimate the percentage of Gulenists within the TNP, the Gulenists control the organization.
The Turkish head of state was previously chosen by parliament, but a 2010 referendum favored by Erdogan gave Turks a direct vote. Erdogan was barred by the rules of his Development and Justice Party (AKP) from seeking a fourth term as prime minister and announced during the August presidential election that he wanted to increase the powers of the country’s head of state. Since switching from the premiership with his August 2014 election to the presidency, Erdogan has been grabbing more powers for himself and forming what opposition commentators claim is a "shadow government." It's part of an effort, they say, to reclaim power over ministers and the country’s parliament that he'd lost when he left the prime minister's office. He'd been prime minister since 2003.
Using a confidential decree to sidestep the 1982 constitution, Erdogan increased the presidential staff dramatically, boosting the number of directorates from four to 13. New directorates include ones to oversee internal security, foreign relations, economy, defense, energy and investment.
Erdogan officials sais the new units are being formed to help apprise the president of what ministers are doing. Critics argue that a parallel government appears to be developing, part and parcel of a tug they fear toward authoritarianism. "There are serious concerns that the work of the directorates will go beyond monitoring and become intervention in planning, project formulation and implementation phases," said Fehim Tastekin, host of a political talk show Dogu Divani. "Even today, Erdogan does not hesitate to intervene in the work of ministers," he wrote on the Al Monitor news site.
Claims of an authoritarian bent increased in December 2014 following the mass arrest of 24 journalists with ties to a one-time Erdogan ally, Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. The spiritual leader of the Hizmet movement has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States. The Turkish president had long claimed that Gulen seeks to mount a putsch and is behind allegations of corruption against the government and Erdogan’s family. The journalists were held for plotting to seize power. European leaders have condemned the raids, but Erdogan publicly told them to "mind their own business." In an official statement Monday, Erdogan said: "We’re pursuing treachery. We’re eliminating stooges. We’re disrupting traps and schemes by the enemies of Turkey." US officials expressed concerns over the arrests of the Turkish journalists, including Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily newspaper. "We urge the Turkish authorities to conduct investigations quickly, transparently and in a manner consistent with the rule of law," Mark Stroh, White House national security council spokesman, said in a statement.
The government introduced sweeping new police powers that limit suspects’ rights and allow preemptive wiretapping. The restrictions include blocking defense attorneys from access to details of legal proceedings brought against their clients during investigations. The new powers reverse restrictions placed on the police passed only 10 months earlier to match European Union standards. The new police and security powers were introduced in the wake of Kurdish protests and riots, mainly in the country's south. Turkish Kurds were protesting Ankara’s refusal to intervene militarily to defend the mainly Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani from Islamic militants.
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