About 100 Turkish-Dutch citizens barred from leaving Turkey

About 100 Dutch citizens have reportedly been blocked from leaving Turkey after criticizing the country’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Those affected are of Turkish descent and had been publicly critical of Erdogan,  reported by The Indendent daily by basing on a story which was broadcasted by NOS, the Netherlands’ public broadcaster.

According to the report, dual nationals from Germany, Switzerland and other European nations were having trouble returning home. Many had been in the country on holiday or to visit relatives, with some accused of supporting the “Hizmet” movement led by US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

A spokesperson for the Dutch foreign ministry said it was difficult to confirm how many citizens were affected as it only knew of those who had sought help. “The reasons why [they have had problems leaving Turkey] are varied, but some of them may be linked to the Gülen movement,” she told The Independent.

“We are prepared to help people who actively seek assistance. We immediately raised the inconvenience caused to these people with the Turkish authorities. Inquiries show that other countries’ citizens are having similar problems in Turkey,” said the spokesperson for the Dutch foreign ministry.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 which killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President 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.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention.

April 6, 2017

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