Turkey detains Diyarbakır deputy governor, dozens more over alleged Gülen links

Turkish government has detained Sercan Gökdemir, the deputy governor of Diyarbakır province, and his wife beside of dozens of people in Turkey’s various provinces on the weekend as part of the government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged followers of the Gülen movement after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Sercan Gökdemir, deputy governor of Diyarbakır province.

It was reported that police teams detained Diyarbakır’s deputy governor Sercan Gökdemir and his wife following detention warrants were issued by Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

At least 115 people were detained on Sunday in northwestern Turkey following the detention warrants for 127 people including businessmen, housewives and police officers were issued by the Tekirdag Public Prosecutor’s Office over their alleged links to the Gülen movement and  their alleged use of a mobile phone messaging app ByLock.

Also on Sunday, 12 people were detained by police in Mersin province after Mersin Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detentions warrants for 20 people over their alleged use of ByLock, a mobile phone messaging app. It was reported that there are public servants, private sector workers and housewives among the detainees.

Police also detained 82 people in Manisa province on Saturday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement after Manisa Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 250 people over their alleged use of ByLock. It was reported that among the detainees there are public officials who were previously dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency declared immediately after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a Gülen follower as they see the mobile phone application as the top communication tool among the sympathizers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt in 2016.

Four people were also arrested by a court on Saturday as part of a Trabzon-based investigation targeting followers of the faith-based Gülen movement. Four out of eight detained people, including businessmen, teachers and nurses who were earlier dismissed from their jobs by government decrees, were arrested by a Trabzon court on charges of being supporters of Gülen movement. Four others were released on judicial probation.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people and wounded. 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.

July 16, 2017

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