Germany says 136 Turks with diplomatic passports applied for asylum

Germany says it has received 136 asylum requests from Turks holding diplomatic passports since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to a report by BBC.

The announcement of Germany’s interior ministry came in response to a question from a member of the German Parliament. The ministry said the 136 asylum applications include the families of the diplomatic passport holders. The figure is a total for the period August 2016 to January 2017, German media report.

Turkey is putting pressure on Germany to not grant asylum to these people, citing national security concerns. However, German authorities have said the asylum applications of the Turks will be processed in the normal way.

The German interior ministry did not identify the 136 Turks who requested asylum. Not only diplomats but also their spouses and children hold diplomatic passports. It is not clear if any of them have been granted asylum yet, according to BBC.

German-Turkish relations have been severely strained by the AKP’s post-coup crackdown. Recently German police searched the homes of four imams amid reports that DİTİB, a Muslim organization funded by the Turkish state, was spying on suspected Gülen supporters in Germany. North Rhine-Westphalia is also investigating claims that Turkish diplomats asked school pupils and teachers in some schools to report any criticism of Erdogan to them.

Meanwhile, in Greece, two more Turkish soldiers have requested asylum. The pair – reported to be commandos – are believed to have taken part in the failed coup. They are in Greek police custody, having applied for asylum last week in Orestiada, a small border town near Turkey.

Last month a Greek court rejected Turkey’s request to extradite eight other Turkish soldiers who fled after the coup attempt. Turkey is appealing against that ruling. Soldiers who fled after the coup attempt fear that they will not get a fair trial in Turkey.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the coup “a great gift of God” and pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

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.

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, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of Feb. 1, According to figures compiled by turkeypurge.com which has been monitoring human rights violations in Turkey’s after failed coup on July 15, 2016, over 92,500 people were detained, 45,882 people were jailed with pre-trial arrest due to their alleged links to the movement.

Feb. 24, 2017

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