Forty-five people, including 17 children and nine women, were detained by security forces on Saturday on a boat off the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as they were allegedly trying to flee Turkey to escape the persecution of the Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, authorities in northern Cyprus dispatched security forces to the coastal city of Girne after receiving a tip that the group was preparing to escape to Greece.
Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out 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.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since the coup attempt in July 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.
“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organisation,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.
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.
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) July 28, 2018