Erdoğan ordered officials to ‘show no mercy’ in post-coup crackdown, opposition leader says

Ali Babacan, leader of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), has claimed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered officials to “show no mercy” in a government crackdown launched following a failed coup in 2016 and to not care about separating the guilty from the innocent, Turkish Minute reported, citing Turkish media.

Babacan, who is also a former heavyweight of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), on Tuesday spoke during a program on Halk TV about the crackdown that targeted real and alleged members of the Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding the coup attempt. The movement, inspired by the views of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch on July 15, 2016.

Citing official data, the politician, who served as a minister in several AKP governments and was an AKP lawmaker when the coup took place, said Turkish prosecutors launched investigations into 1.5 million people on charges of membership in a terrorist organization between 2016 and 2020.

“How can something like this happen?” Babacan said, adding that the injustice related to the post-coup crackdown occurred due to two orders given by President Erdoğan at the time.

“Erdoğan gave two orders after July 15. First, he told [officials] to let the innocent suffer along with the guilty. … Second, he told them to show no mercy since [if they did] they would end up needing it themselves. So he said, ‘Don’t scrutinize, just fire them en masse.’ … What is the message to judges and prosecutors? You either arrest them, or go to jail yourselves,” Babacan said.

Judicial officials followed Erdoğan’s orders, and it led to the occurrence of great injustice, according to Babacan, who added, referring to Erdoğan, that the leader of a “state of law” cannot give an order that urges letting the innocent suffer along with the guilty.

The coup attempt was, according to many, a false flag aimed at entrenching the authoritarian rule of Erdoğan by rooting out dissidents and eliminating powerful actors such as the military in his desire for absolute power.

The failed coup killed 251 people and wounded more than a thousand others. The next morning, after announcing the coup had been suppressed, the Turkish government immediately started a wide-ranging purge of military officers, judges, police officers, teachers and other civil servants that ultimately led to the dismissal of more than 130,000 from their jobs.

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