Turkey’s Erdoğan signals general amnesty after Istanbul revote

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said the country’s Justice Ministry is working on a general amnesty bill which would be announced following the June 23 Istanbul mayoral revote.

"Our Ministry of Justice is currently working on these matters… It is not possible to release everyone, but our Ministry of Justice is working with those who should be released,’’ pro-government Cumhuriyet quoted Erdoğan as saying during a Ramadan programme in Istanbul’s Esenler district on Friday night.

The idea of an amnesty first came to public attention in May of 2018, ahead of Turkey’s June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections, as part of the election campaign of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ally far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli had pushed for an amnesty for certain criminals leading up into 2018 polls, which Erdoğan turned down, creating tension between the parties. 

“We will not be remembered as a government that will pardon drug dealers at a time when there are over 50,000 drug criminals in prisons,” Erdoğan had said in October.

MHP has been urging AKP for an amnesty that will pardon more than 160,000 prisoners, including notorious mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı.