Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has likened the sympathizers of Gülen movement to “cancer virus” again and has reiterated that they “will continue to cleansing them” during a political rally for ‘yes’ vote in April 16 referendum in northwestern province of Zonguldak on Tuesday. President Erdoğan has pledged that “We will not give them right to live.”
“We are purging every Gülenist in the army, in the police and the state institutions. And we will continue to cleansing them,” said Erdoğan as he gave a speech to a huge crowd in Zonguldak. Ana he continued to say “We will eradicate this cancer virus from the body of this country and the state.”
Gülen movement has been accused by Turkey’s government of being behind a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. However, the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch. 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.
“We will not give them right to live,” has exclaimed President Erdoğan and added that “Because, they divided this nation, this Ummah (Islamic nation). Therefore, our fight against them will continue until the end.” Erdoğan has also gave a promise for the thousands of Erdoğanist people by saying “We won’t leave them (this job) wounded.”
Over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt on July 15, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10.
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 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.
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. 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 said that 2,575 judges and prosecutors have also been imprisoned. Since July 15, 2016, 4,272 judges and prosecutors were dismissed due to alleged involvement in the coup attempt.
Also, as of April 1, 2017, Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), a Stockholm-based monitoring and rights advocacy group, has confirmed that 228 journalists and media workers are behind bars in Turkey, a new world record by any measure. Of these journalists, 194 are arrested pending trial and without a conviction. 13 jailed journalists have been re-detained just after they were released by an İstanbul court on March 31, 2017. Most of the journalists do not even know what the charges are or what evidence, if any, the government has because the indictments were not filed yet.
The Turkish government is apparently using arbitrary arrests as part of intimidation campaign to suppress critical coverage, muzzle independent media and silence journalists. Only 21 journalists who are in jail were convicted while the rest are in abusive and long pre-trial detentions. Moreover, sweeping detention warrants have been issued for 92 journalists who are forced to live in exile abroad or remain at large in Turkey.
April 5, 2017