678 people from Turkey seek asylum in Belgium since July 15

According to Belgian media reports basing on information given by official institutions, as many as 678 citizens of Turkey have found or sought asylum in Belgium after the coup attempt of July 15, 2016 and during the following State of Emergency in Turkey, pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency reported on Monday.

Senior bureaucrats, lawyers, journalists, judges, soldiers, businessmen and engineers are among those seeking asylum in Belgium, according to reports which also suggest that these people are concerned over the probability of facing attacks in Belgium as well.

German newsweekly Der Spiegel had reported on Saturday that 262 Turkish diplomatic and military personnel have applied for political asylum in Germany.  According to the report, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has not finalized any of the applications.

Citing a rise in the acceptance rate of applications from Turkey, the news magazine underlined that the BAMF has updated it practices concerning Turkey in line with new assessments from the German Foreign Ministry. The ministry has noted that there is explicit evidence that people believed to have links to the Gülen movement have been exposed to systematic investigations by Turkish authorities.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has announced on Sunday that 47,155 people have been jailed over alleged links with Gülen movement since coup attempt on July 15, 2016.  According to Minister Soylu, 113,260 people have also been detained with the same accusation and 745 people are still under detention on Sunday over alleged links with Gülen movement which the Turkish gov’t accuses of masterminding a coup attempt last year.

Minister Soylu has also announced that 41,499 people have been released with condition of judicial control and 23,861 people have been released without any condition. Soylu has added that 863 other suspects remain at large.

The military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connections to the Gülen movement since a July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. A total of 7,317 academics were also purged as well as 4,272 judges and prosecutors who were dismissed due to alleged involvement in the coup attempt.

Gülen movement has been inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen who has been advocating science education, interfaith and intercultural dialogue and community contribution. The movement promotes a moderate version of Islam with a heavy emphasis on public service. The movement runs schools and universities in 180 countries.

Gülen has been a vocal critic of Turkish government and Turkey’s autocratic President  Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on massive corruption in the government as well as Turkey’s aiding and abetting of radical groups in Syria. Erdoğan launched an unprecedented persecution against Gülen and his followers in December 2013 right after major corruption probe that incriminated Erdoğan’s family members.

The ruling AKP’s Islamist leaders labelled the movement as ‘FETÖ’, a terrorist organization, although Gülen, 75-year old cleric, and his followers have never advocated violence but rather remained staunchly opposed to any violence, radicalism and terror in the name of religion.

April 3, 2017

Take a second to support SCF on Patreon!