12 people detained while trying to flee from Turkey’s post-coup crackdown to Greece

Twelve people were stopped by gendarmes and detained in Edirne province over the weekend while they were reportedly on their way to Greece, Turkish media reported on Sunday.

The pro-government Doğan news agency (DHA) said on Sunday that gendarmes stopped five people in a military zone near the Turkish-Greek border in Edirne. Arrest warrants were outstanding for all of the detainees, among them a dismissed academic and three private school employees, over their alleged use of the ByLock mobile phone messaging  application.

DHA also reported on Saturday that a group of people was rounded up in a restricted military zone near the Evros River in Edirne, a small province on Turkey’s border with Greece. An ID check by the gendarmes revealed that the detainees included four teachers who used to work at prep schools the Turkish government closed down over their links to the Gülen movement. The rest of the group consisted of four children and a man who was also removed from his job at the Finance Ministry over links to the movement.

Following their initial interrogation, two of the teachers were jailed pending trial while the other three adults were awaiting questioning by a prosecutor. The children are believed to have been handed over to relatives as has been the case in similar situations.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive post-coup witch hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Many people have tried to leave Turkey illegally as the government had cancelled their passports. Those who manage to flee mostly claim asylum on the basis of the increasing persecution carried out by the Turkish government.

On Feb. 13 at least three people died and five others went missing after a boat carrying a group of eight seeking to escape to Greece capsized in the Evros River.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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