EP’s Harms calls on EU to grant political asylum to Turkey purge victims

Rebecca Harms

Rebecca Harms, spokeswoman for foreign affairs and expert on Turkey in the European Parliament’s Greens/EFA group, on Monday called on the European Union to react in unity and grant political asylum and protection to members of the Gülen movement targeted by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish government.

“The EU has to make sure that EU member states react united and political asylum and protection are granted,” Harms tweeted, directing her words to Federica Mogherini, vice president of the European Union Commission and high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy, and Johannes Hahn, commissioner for EU neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations.

Commenting on an opinion by Nate Schenkkan of Freedom House published in The Washington Post on Sunday on the global witch hunt and abductions carried out by the Turkish government against people linked to the Gülen movement, Harms said, “In Turkey we are witnessing a purge which is politically motivated and has […] a new threatening dimension. Unity in EU reaction matters.”

On Thursday morning Turkish government’s notorious intelligence agency abducted six Turkish nationals, one doctor and five educators, working at a group of schools affiliated with the Gülen movement. They were reportedly removed to Turkey the same day. The arrests sparked a political crisis in Kosovo, and Prime Minister Haradinaj on Friday dismissed the interior minister and the secret service chief.

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 autocratic 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.” (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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