Eurostat: 14,640 Turkish citizens claimed asylum in EU in 2017

A total of 14,640 Turkish nationals claimed asylum in the European Union countries last year, according to data compiled by Eurostat.

According to statistics released by Eurostat on March 18, the year 2017 saw 14,640 asylum requests from Turkish nationals. The corresponding number was 10,105 in 2016 and 4,180 in 2015.

The main reason for the mass exodus from Turkey was the Turkish government’s post-coup crackdown on its critics: Gülen movement supporters, members of the Kurdish minority, journalists, academics and people from many other walks of life.

Germany, Greece, France and Sweden are the top places where Turks sought protection in 2017, receiving 8,025, 1,820, 1,290, and 825 applications, respectively. According to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), another 1,400 Turks claimed asylum in Germany in the first two months of this year. BAMF also said 42 percent of asylum seeking Turks were granted protection as of February of this year.

Non-EU member Switzerland is also becoming a country of choice for Turkish asylum seekers. A total of 770 Turks claimed asylum in the country in 2017, a 62 percent increase from 2016, when the number was 475. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom saw 430 Turkish refugee claimants in 2016 and 505 in 2017.

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

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