Over 16,000 Turkish citizens claimed asylum in EU, neighboring countries in 2017

A total of 16,640 Turkish nationals claimed asylum in 32 countries on the European continent in 2017, according to a report released by the Malta-based the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

Based on statistics compiled by the EASO from the 28 European Union countries as well as Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland, grouped together as EU+, the report stated that the number of asylum claimants from Turkey in EU+ saw a record increase in 2017.

The report said that while 11,670 Turkish citizens sought protection in 2016, the corresponding number rose to 16,640 last year, a 42 percent surge.

The reason for the mass exodus from Turkey was the Turkish government’s post-coup crackdown on its critics including alleged members of the Gülen movement, Kurds, critical journalists, academics and dissidents from all walks of life.

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 more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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