Top judicial body instructs judges to arrest more Gülen supporters: report

According to a document that the Kronos news website published on Saturday, Turkey’s top judicial body, the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), sent a memo to judges on how to arrest more sympathizers of the Gülen movement, which is the subject of a massive witch-hunt in the country.

Kronos claimed that the document, which bears no name or signature, was a guideline for judges who asked for criteria on the arrest of people on charges of Gülen movement links. Since a failed coup attempt on July 15 of last year, according to official figures Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people on coup charges and links to the movement.

The news site said the six-page document encourages law enforcement to find informants who can provide concrete data on the Gülen movement.

The document lists as “evidence” of links to the movement, which is designated a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, such things as membership in charity organizations, enrollment in Gülen-linked schools, depositing money in Bank Asya and having one dollar bills. Since July 15, Turkey has arrested scores of people merely for having one-dollar bills in their homes, arguing that it is a secret code among members of the Gülen movement.

The document also claimed that women of the Gülen movement deliberately conceive to lead to their arrest immediately after delivery, a practice of Turkish government that has attracted criticism.

A comprehensive report by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law provides detailed information on how the rule of law has lost meaning in Turkish context, confirming the effective collapse of all domestic judicial and administrative remedies available for Turkish citizens who lodge complaints on rights violations.

It lists many recent cases showing the ways in which Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his associates in the government manipulates judiciary through loyalists and partisans. An unprecedented intimidation campaign against independent judges and prosecutors including unlawful arrests and arbitrary assets seizures was pursued by political authorities.

The report has showed Turkey is in breach of the compliance with its international obligations under existing treaties, highlighting recent cases how stick and carrot approach paralyzed independent judiciary.

In addition to jailing thousands of judges and prosecutors, Turkey has also imprisoned hundreds of human rights defenders and lawyers, making extremely difficult for detainees to access to a lawyer in violation of a due process and fair trial protections under the Turkish Code on Criminal Procedures.

The report has stated that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) remains the last beacon of hope for millions of Turks who feel their fundamental rights were violated. SCF had urged the Strasbourg court to take up cases on an emergency procedures and pilot judgement framework to issue landmark rulings to set the bar on protecting human rights in Turkey.

SCF had stated “As the rule of law is no longer applicable in Turkey, the requirement of the court for the complainants to exhaust domestic remedies before filing a case with the ECtHR has become an additional burden on victims. Turkey is going through an extraordinary period, must be declared as a special case and be dealt with an urgent manner.”

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 Turkey’s 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 civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with




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