More academics, people sent to jail as part of Turkey’s post-coup witch hunt

File photo.

More people including 14 academics from Eskisehir Osmangazi University (ESOGÜ) have been jailed as part of a post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, on Wednesday.

The 14 academics have joined the ranks of hundreds of academics earlier jailed over similar charges. Wednesday arrestees included ESOGÜ’s vice rector A.B. and A.K., the deputy chief physician at ESOGÜ’s medical faculty.

At least 120,000 people have been detained over alleged or real ties to the movement since last summer. Meanwhile, 8,271 academics have lost their jobs in post-coup purges.

Alos on early Wednesday, at least 46 people were detained in Manisa province as part of a post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the Gülen movement. Accused of using ByLock smartphone application, the detainees included many public servants.

ByLock is considered by Turkish authorities to be the top communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Meanwhile, Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s nephew Şamil Gülen was arrested by a local court in Sakarya as part of the witch hunt on Tuesday. Şamil Güven is accused of “membership to a terrorist organization” as the government labels the movement as “terrorist.” 36-year-old nephew spent 11 days under police custody before he was arrested and sent to jail in the province of Sakarya.

In the province of Sakarya, a 39-year-old football coach was also arrested on Tuesday over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. According to a news report in Hürriyet daily, football coach Şaban Yıldırım, who was detained by police over the weekend, was sent by a court to prison in Sakarya over membership in an “armed terror organization” and “attempting to destroy the constitutional order.”

Among the football teams Yıldırım had coached are Elazığspor, Sakaryaspor, Çubukspor, Kartalspor, İnegölspor and finally Pendikspor.

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 Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement. The movement and Gülen himself have strongly denied any involvement into putsch.

Critics often blast the government for a massive purge it is carrying out that violates the principle of individual criminal responsibility. However, according to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention. On May 6, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the movement. (SCF with May 17, 2017

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