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UN experts warn of rights violations as polls suggest Turkish referendum vote will be close

UN experts warned ahead of Erdogan's upcoming referendum that Turkey's existing emergency laws have been used to justify 'massive' human rights violations.

UN experts said ahead of an April 16 referendum that Turkey’s state of emergency has been used to justify ‘massive’ human rights violations, arbitrary arrests and dismissals of public servants.

They warned the constitutional changes could be used to further violate human rights.

“Given the arbitrary and sweeping nature of the emergency decrees issued since July 2016, there is serious concern that such powers might be used in ways that exacerbate the existing major violations of economic, social and cultural rights,” the experts said.

Sunday’s constitutional referendum would greatly expand the powers of the Turkish presidency, including by giving President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sole authority to enact future emergency laws.

Support for the vote

According to two Turkish polls released on Thursday, the referendum could pass by a narrow majority.

A Konda Research and Consultancy poll found that 51.5 percent of respondents would likely vote yes to the changes.

Konda surveyed 3,462 people from April 7-9 in 30 provinces.  The poll has a margin of error of 2.4 percent.

Gezici Research on Thursday also found the referendum passing by a small margin, with 51.3 percent of 1,400 respondents voting yes and 48.7 voting no. The survey was conducted face-to-face in 10 provinces from April 8-9.

An OSCE Democratic Institutions and Human Rights delegation will observe the April 16 constitutional referendum at the invitation of the Turkish government.

Post-coup crackdown

Since the failed July 15 coup, Turkey has arrested some 113,000 people, including judges, journalists, and detained more than 47,000 others.

Turkey Purge, who describe themselves as a small group of journalists living both in and outside the country, have compiled figures on the post-coup crackdown.

According to the group’s figures, more than 134,000 people have been fired from academic, government, judicial and other public jobs; almost 2,100 educational centers have been shuttered; 149 media outlets have been shut down.

Most of those arrested and sacked are accused of ties to Fethullah Gülen, a cleric and former Erdoğan ally who now lives in Pennsylvania.

Ankara blames Gülen, an exiled cleric and former Erdogan ally, for orchestrating the coup.

The Gülen movement is known inside Turkey as Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü, (FETÖ), or the Gülenist Terror Organisation.

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