183 detained amid ongoing crackdown on Gülen movement

File photo.

Turkish authorities have ordered the detention of a total of 183 suspects in the last 10 days, part of a relentless witch-hunt against the Gülen movement, according to reports by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

On November 17, 23 people were taken into custody in 19 provinces based on 54 detention warrants issued by the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office in an operation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). Forty-two of the suspects are former military cadets.

The suspects are accused of communicating with members of the Gülen movement, a faith based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, using payphones in order to avoid being tracked.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the 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. Erdoğan 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.

On November 17, 25 former police officers were taken into custody based on detention warrants issued by the Niğde Public Prosecutor’s Office. The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office also issued detention warrants the same day for 22 suspects. All of the suspects are accused of links to the Gülen movement.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch. The Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. Over 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 20,571 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

On November 19, 28 people were taken into custody in three provinces based on 38 detention warrants issued by the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of an operation that targets those allegedly providing financial support to alleged members of the Gülen movement by giving scholarships and zakat, a form of alms-giving treated in Islam as a religious obligation.

Anadolu reported today that the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 44 suspects, including active duty soldiers and former military cadets.

In an opinion on September 25, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) underlined “a pattern of targeting those with alleged links to the [Gülen movement] on the discriminatory basis of their political or other opinion.”

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