Rights violations of Gülen movement members constitute crimes against humanity: report

A report by the Institute for Diplomacy and Economy (INSTITUDE) has revealed that the scale, scope, gravity, intensity and prevalence of human rights violations against alleged members of the Gülen movement in Turkey have risen to such a level as to constitute crimes against humanity.

“The prevalent and all-encompassing characteristics of those violations indicate that the corresponding crimes have been committed as a part of systematic and widespread attacks,” said INSTITUDE, a Brussel-based platform, adding that “crimes have been committed within the framework of a preconceived policy adopted by the official security mechanisms and executed in an identical manner.”

According to the report, published on August 14, targeted members of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, are victimized not because of their individual attributes but rather due to their alleged affiliation with the group.

“Specific crimes constituting crimes against humanity targeting the Group involve imprisonment and other serious deprivation of liberty, enforced disappearance including extrajudicial renditions, torture and sexual offences as well as persecution and other inhumane acts,” the INSTITUDE report said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Widespread or systematic imprisonment of individuals with alleged links to the Gülen movement may constitute crimes against humanity, the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said in an earlier opinion on the extradition of Arif Komiş, 44, Ülkü Komiş, 38, and their four children from Malaysia to Turkey in August 2019.

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