5,786 Turkish nationals seek asylum in Greece since controversial coup attempt

The Greek-Turkish border line right on the bridge over the river Evros, in Thrace region. The grey line on the road marks the exact point where the two countries meet.

A total of 5,786 Turkish citizens have sought asylum in neighboring Greece in the 27 months following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to a report by online news outlet Diken, citing the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy.

Pointing to an increase in the number of Turkish asylum seekers, the Greek ministry said 706 Turkish citizens applied for asylum in October alone, while 3,807 Turks who fled to Greece sought asylum there between January and October 2018.

Migration from Turkey to Greece has intensified since 2016 due to the Turkish government’s purge of political opponents in the wake of the abortive putsch. Most of the Turkish nationals seeking asylum in Greece are reportedly sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

The number of Turkish refugees seeking asylum in Greece for the whole of 2017 was 1,826, the ministry said. Prior to the July 2016 coup attempt, 17 Turkish citizens applied for asylum in Greece in 2013, 41 in 2014, 42 in 2015 and 189 in 2016.

Turkish officials have accused Greece of becoming a “haven” for coup plotters after resisting Turkish demands for the extradition of eight Turkish military officers accused of links to the coup attempt from Greece.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of the coup attempt in July 2016. Many have tried to flee Turkey via illegal means as the government had canceled the passports of thousands of people.

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 failed coup, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” 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 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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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.

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