Minister Varank: Turkish gov’t has dismissed 1,289 TÜBİTAK personnel over links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government has dismissed 1,289 employees of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Mustafa Varank, Turkey’s industry and technology minister, on Monday.

Responding to questions from members of Parliament, Varank said the dismissal of these individuals took place between Dec. 17, 2013 and Oct. 31, 2018.

Dec.17, 2013 refers to the eruption of a corruption scandal in Turkey in which senior government members were implicated.

The Turkish government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blames the Gülen movement for both the corruption investigation and a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, while the movement strongly denies any involvement in either. The government launched a witch-hunt targeting the group following the abortive putsch.

Turkey’s former Minister of Science, Industry and Technology Faruk Özlü had announced on March 3, 2017 that a total of 1,846 people had been sacked from TUBİTAK due to their alleged links to Gülen movement. TÜBİTAK has around 4,500 employees.

The minister said the firing of employees at TÜBİTAK and the ministry began in February 2014 following the revelation of a corruption scandal in which senior government members were involved in late 2013.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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