More than 1,400 Turkish nationals, including military officers, public officials and their family members, applied for asylum in Germany in the first two months of 2018 due to their persecution by the Turkish government led by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to reports by the German media on Sunday.
As of March 7, 288 Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports and 771 Turkish nationals with service passports had applied for asylum, the German Suddeutsche Zeitung daily reported on Sunday based on data from Germany’s Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
Most of the officials who applied for asylum were suspected of having ties to the Gülen movement.
BAMF provided no information on the number of applications approved by the authorities.
The number of Turks requesting asylum from Germany in 2017 increased five times over 2015. The rate of asylum requests approved also increased from 8 percent in 2016 to 42 percent in the first two months of 2018.
Deutsche Welle (DW) reported that between the year 2016 and early March 2018, 15,654 people from Turkey sought asylum in Germany. While approximately 5,700 people submitted asylum applications to Germany in 2016, this number increased to 8,500 in 2017. Figures published by BAMF show that 1,400 asylum requests were made in the first two months of 2018.
Taken together, the data demonstrate that the number of Turks requesting asylum from Germany in 2017 increased fivefold over 2015 and that the number of applications made in 2018 has been continuing at an unprecedented pace.
The figures announced by BAMF also show that the rate of asylum requests approved increased from 8 percent in 2016 and 28 percent in 2017 to 42 percent in the first two months of 2018, pointing to a similarly unprecedented increase in the number of asylum requests granted.
Speaking to DW about the issue, two journalists in Germany, Hüseyin Topel and Fatih Aktürk, stated that asylum applicants were assisted by a diverse network of individuals comprising both ethnic Germans and Germans of Turkish origin.
Topel also said that despite Turkey’s recent release of Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel, a political sea-change inside Turkey is not evident. Topel added that “whoever comments critically about the government or government members [of Turkey] is branded as a national traitor.”
The autocratic Erdoğan regime in Ankara has long urged Berlin not to grant political asylum to former officials and to instead return them to Turkey. Since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Erdoğan government has officially requested the extradition of dozens of people following the issuance of arrest warrants by Turkish courts, which are under the direct instructions of the government.
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.”