Turkey has escalated the mass detention of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, ordering the detention of 748 individuals in June, according to a tweet by Ali Yerlikaya, Turkey’s new interior minister.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won a historic runoff election on May 28 to extend his two-decade rule into a third term as head of state. He appointed Yerlikaya, the former governor of İstanbul, as the new interior minister on June 5.
According to Yerlikaya, 130 of the detainees were arrested last month by local courts over alleged links to the movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist” activities.
The police conducted 513 operations to detain suspects across Turkey in June, Yerlikaya tweeted.
Local reports earlier revealed how Turkish prosecutors intensified the crackdown on the Gülen movement following the announcement of a new cabinet by President Erdoğan.
Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.