Turkey’s Erdoğan calls for expanded witch hunt against Gülen followers

Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Having purged more than 150,000 people from state jobs and jailed over 50,000 due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday called on people to inform on activities of Gülen followers, saying that if they fail to do so, they will be held responsible.

“Wherever you know of or find a member of FETÖ [a derogatory term coined by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and Erdoğan to refer to members of the Gülen movement] you will report them to us. If you do not inform us, you will held be responsible,” said Erdoğan during an event organized by the İstanbul branch of his AKP to mark Eid al-Fitr.

“We will hold those who divide the Ummah to account,” he added.

The Gülen movement faces an unprecedented persecution in Turkey where the rule of law has effectively ended with Erdoğan fully controlling all levers of the powers including the judiciary without any checks and balances. Statutory decrees passed in reference to the state of emergency law declared after the failed coup attempt has left hundreds of thousands of people dismissed; scores of people jailed, including journalists and deputies; and, hundreds of media institutions and civil society organizations shutdown.

The AKP government has seized a total of 942 companies with a total value of TL 40.5 billion since the failed coup attempt, according to a statement from Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli. The total equity capital of the seized companies is TL18.1 billion, while their combined turnover is TL 21.5 billion, according to a Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) report. Together the seized companies employ a workforce of 44,868.

A controversial military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 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 and jailing them en masse on trumped-up charges.

At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13. (SCF turkishminute.com) June 26, 2017

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