Hundreds of people have been detained over alleged Gülen links in recent days in Turkey, according to the Turkish government sources. Police forces have detained 177 people on Saturday in several raids orchestrated by AKP government against the people who are allegedly affiliated to the Gülen movement, a civic network of volunteers active in education, charity and social work.
The movement, inspired by US-based intellectual Fethullah Gülen, is now described as a terror group after labeled as “FETÖ” by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his associates in the government because of its critical stand on government corruption, the abuse of religion for political purposes and the arming of jihadists in Syria.
Police also raided 325 locations in 49 provinces across the country in an operation targeting 235 people, including 187 police officers, over alleged Gülen movement links on Jan. 21, 2016. Ninety-seven of them were detained over allegedly having ByLock, a smartphone application which is open for public use. However, AKP government has claimed that this application has only been used by alleged “FETÖ” members.
According to same government sources, other 138 people have been identified by the prosecution following statements of alleged informants. Independent human rights observers and international watchdogs like the Human Rights Watch (HRW) have documented that people detained and imprisoned as part of the government crackdown targeting Gülen movement are being systematically tortured in barbaric ways including rape, removal of nails and the insertion of objects into their anuses. Allegations of ill-treatment of Turkey’s post-coup prisoners are becoming widespread. In addition to accounts from relatives of the victims, associations, corporate figures and parliamentarians are raising concerns over extreme types of torture in detention centers and prisons across the country.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, an Istanbul court remanded 59 suspects and released eight others under judicial supervision, who were held on Friday. Earlier, more than 100 were detained. A total of 60 suspects is currently under questioning at Istanbul police department, while 50 others at local police departments across the country. An operation is ongoing to apprehend the remaining 58 people, according to the same government sources.
AKP government has accused of the Gülen movement for orchestrating the failed coup attempt of July 2016. Both Fethullah Gülen and his sympathizers have categorically denied these claims numerous times.
However, the government has started a campaign of massive purge and arrests against those allegedly linked to Gülen movement. According to data collected by turkeypurge.com, in wake of foiled military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, AKP government has sacked 123.934 public officials from their posts; 89.775 people have been detained, 43.885 people have been arrested; 2.099 schools, dormitories, universities have been shut down, 6.986 academics have been purged from universities; 3.843 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed.
Moreover, a report recently released by a newly found human rights advocacy group, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), has revealed that 187 media outlets have been shut down and 191 journalists have been put behind the bars in Turkey by the government by basing on the same allegations.