Pro-Erdoğan daily: 13,000 targeted in new wave of detentions

The pro-government Yeni Şafak daily on Sunday claimed that a new detention operation is underway targeting 13,000 police officers and civilians allegedly linked to the Gülen movement.

According to the report, the 13,000 are part of a list of 30,000 people, 17,000 of whom have already been investigated. The daily claimed that the new list was prepared in connection to an SD card obtained from a Gülen movement member and a mobile application named Co-Co.

Meanwhile, Saygı Öztürk, a columnist for the Kemalist/neo-nationalist Sözcü daily, has claimed that a witch-hunt carried out by Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) targeting the Gülen movement will extend to AKP politicians at the beginning of May.

“It is said that some politicians will be detained in the early days of next month. Their names are mentioned one by one. A female politician whose name has frequently been on the agenda recently is also mentioned,” Öztürk wrote in his column in Sözcü on Sunday.

Öztürk also claimed that a delay in the publication of a Parliamentary Coup Investigation Commission report is linked with operations targeting some politicians. According to Öztürk, the names of the politicians will be added to the report after the operations are completed.

As part of a witch-hunt launched against the Gülen movement following a failed coup on July 15, the Turkish government last week suspended 9,103 police officers.

The same day, Turkish prosecutors issued detention warrants for 4,900 members of the police force due to their alleged links to Gülen movement, with 1,120 of them having been taken into custody so far.

On Saturday, the Turkish government  issued two new state of emergency decrees, known as KHKs, dismissing 3,974 people including 484 academics from state positions.

A total of 1,037, including a general from the Turkish military, 1,127 from the Justice Ministry, 216 from the Ministry of Health, 56 from the Gendarmerie, 120 from the Coast Guard and 201 from the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) were dismissed, the highest figures in the new KHKs.

Critics say the purge in state institutions has been used as a tool to employ Erdoğan supporters within the state machinery.

According to a report issued in March by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), 4,811 academics have been dismissed from 112 universities across the country through decrees issued during a state of emergency declared after a failed coup on July 15.

Over 130,000 people from state institutions have been purged since July 15, 2016.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President 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.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 2 that a total of 113,260 people have been detained, 47,155 people including 10,732 police officers, 7,631 military officers, 2,575 judges and prosecutors and 208 local administrative officials were arrested as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the putsch.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, an indictment drafted by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office says the majority of officers allegedly linked to the movement did not participate in the coup attempt, Al Jazeera Turk reported on April 14.

According to the report, only two out of 47 colonels who were identified as being Gülen movement members by a secret witness took part in the coup attempt. Similarly, only 300 out of 800 officers who were claimed to be using a smart phone application known as ByLock, which is considered by Turkish authorities to be the top communication tool among followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, participated in the failed coup.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.

In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.

In February, Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, said that many generals purged by the Turkish government are pro-NATO and pro-American, saying this could create a shift in Turkey-NATO relations. (SCF with April 30, 2017

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