Turkey has purged 4,562 military personnel from the Turkish Armed Forces since the end of a two-year state of emergency declared after a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has announced.
In addition, 531 retired military officers have been divested of their military ranks. Both dismissals and divestments were carried out with the approval of Defense Minister Akar over their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, a dissident group targeted by the government since 2013.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also hold the movement responsible for the coup attempt, an accusation categorically denied by the group.
A total of 3,554 of the dismissals took place last year, while 1,003 of them have been carried out this year.
Commenting on the purge, Akar said: “Our struggle against FETO continues as decisively as against other terrorist organizations. We work together in close cooperation with judicial and intelligence institutions. Once we receive a new document or information, we take action as soon as we make a determination. Our goal is to cleanse these terrorists from among us, not to let even one traitor wear this glorious uniform.”
FETO (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization) is a derogatory term concocted by the Erdoğan government to refer to the Gülen movement.
Since the failed coup attempt the Turkish government has dismissed 19,583 military personnel from the armed forces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, while administrative and judicial investigations are underway for some 4,156 soldiers, the defense minister announced earlier.
Following two corruption probes in 2013 — the so-called December 17-25 corruption operations that implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan and his inner circle — Erdoğan began to target the movement, which eventually led to his designation of it as a terrorist organization in 2016.
The anti-Gülenist witch hunt gained momentum after the abortive putsch in July 2016. Portraying the coup as a “gift from God” and declaring a two-year state of emergency, he initiated a massive purge, dismissing some 130,000 civil servants, Gülenists and other dissidents alike, from their jobs and sending over half a million real and perceived Gülenists to detention facilities.