Persecution of Gülen movement’s alleged followers by Turkey’s Erdoğan regime goes on

Turkish government’s persecution targeting the alleged members of  the Gülen movement has continued on the weekend. In a Mersin-based investigation 5 military cadets and 5 military officers on their active duties were detained by police in 5 provinces across Turkey over their alleged links to the movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, the detentions in Mersin, Ankara, Kocaeli, Bursa and Gaziantep provinces came following the issuance of warrants by Mersin Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 11 military personnel over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Saturday.

Meanwhile, 61 people were detained in an operation against human-smugglers across Turkey on Friday. In an İstanbul-based operation, police detained 61 people for their suspected roles in organizing illegal border crossings. The operation was held in 20 provinces across Turkey, according to a report by Anadolu news agency.

The suspects were accused of providing fake passports to undocumented migrants, the persecuted followers of the Gülen movement and the alleged members of some terror organisations.

According to the report, also 157 people were detained, including 148 undocumented migrants, and those sought for alleged membership in terror organisations.

More than 400 passports, over 145 identity cards, and 21 cheques worth 435,000 Turkish Liras ($103,000) were reportedly seized during the police search at different addresses. Turkish courts remanded 41 suspects in custody.

Meanwhile, a total of 31 military personnel were given heavy jail terms on Friday for their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

İstanbul’s 27th High Criminal Court handed down aggravated life sentences to 16 military personnel, including Hamza Mermer, Ramazan Argunşah, Duran Keskin, Ufuk Kenan Konuk, Erdoğan Çelik, Günay Kaya, Birhan Sahan, Mustafa Karademir, İsa Gözetici, Nurullah Yıldırım, Mustafa Kemal Kütahya, Emrah Altunkalem, Yavuz Sarıoğlu, Ali Kazanpınar, Asım Özdemir, and Nuh Çetiner.

Fifteen others including Abdullah Badur, Ahmet Ergun, Aykut Keklik, Ener Bilecek, Eşhed Oksun, Hasem Ülker, İbrahim Gör, Mehmet Uysal, Mücahit Özcan, Müjdat Bozkaya, Ömür Mazlum, Sinan Ertepe, Sinan Mise, Yasin Mapavrelioğlu and Yener Dertli were convicted with life sentences by the İstanbul court.

A group of soldiers had attempted to occupy TRT’s Harbiye building on the day of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The soldiers also tried to take control of Taksim Square, where 36 civilians were injured. They were all charged with allegedly attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.

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 also 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.

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