July 19 (UPI) -- The Turkish government ended a state of emergency Thursday that had been in effect since a failed coup attempt two years ago.
Emergency rule was imposed on July 20, 2016, five days after a coup attempt "to enable the authorities to take swift and effective action against those responsible for the failed coup, which also resulted in the temporary suspension of the European Convention on Human Rights."
Under the state of emergency, more than 100,000 people were taken into custody; over 100,000 civil servants were dismissed; and more than 100 media outlets were closed. The government extended the emergency rule seven times, prompting criticism from Western allies and civil rights groups.
While the government has decided not to extend the emergency rule, a bill seeking to keep some measures in place for another three years is expected to be taken to parliament next week. If passed, it would maintain the government's power to dismiss civil servants with alleged terrorist ties. It would also extend the time detainees can be held in prison through a court order from two days to 12 days.
"Whilst the lifting of the two-year state of emergency is a step in the right direction, it needs to be accompanied by urgent measures if it is to be anything more than a cosmetic exercise," an Amnesty International statement said. "Hundreds of journalists, human rights defenders and activists, including Amnesty International Turkey's honorary chair, Taner Kilic, have been detained simply for doing their jobs.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to end the state of emergency during his election campaign and the decision not to extend it comes weeks after he won re-election with new powers to select his own Cabinet without parliamentary approval.
In the attempt to overthrow the government by seizing control of key institutions, some 250 people were killed and 2,200 wounded. Many government buildings, including the Presidential Palace, were damaged. Turkish officials link the coup attempt to the Gulen movement, which it calls a terrorist group, but the European Union denies this. Fetullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric, has denied any involvement and has lived in exile in the United States since 1999.
The emergency decrees have affected civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and procedural rights, and amended key pieces of legislation that will continue to have an effect when the state of emergency is lifted, the European Commission has stated.