Turkey’s former ambassador to Ghana sent to jail over alleged Gülen links

Şentürk Uzun

Şentürk Uzun, Turkey’s former ambassador to Ghana, has been put in pretrial detention over his alleged links with the Gülen movement on Saturday. Detained on July 26 in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement, Uzun was arrested on accusations of membership in a terrorist organization.

It was reported that Uzun has been under investigation due to his alleged use of ByLock, a mobile app that Turkish authorities claim to be the top communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. A former deputy governor in Ankara, Uzun served as Turkey’s ambassador to Ghana from September 2013 to August 2014.

Turkey’s foreign ministry has branded almost 500 of its employees as ‘terrorists’ without any judicial proceedings and purged them from the government with a total disregard to a due process and right to a defense.

The bulk of the purged is composed of diplomats which was declared as 394 according to official documents presented to the Parliament by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. That corresponds to 33 percent of all diplomats employed at the ministry which had 1,202 career diplomats at the end of 2015.

In other words, Turkish government has suddenly decided to consider one-third of its diplomats as “terrorists” or “people affiliated and associated with terrorists” in the aftermath of the controversial coup bid of July 15, 2016 for which the opposition claimed is ‘controlled operation’ by the government.

The branding of hundreds of Turkish diplomats as ‘terrorists’ without an effective judicial and administrative probes drew the ire of human rights organizations that lambasted Turkish government for mass rights violations in breach of Turkey’s international obligations.

According to Çavuşoğlu’s statement, 96 employees who are not diplomats were also purged from the foreign ministry, bringing the total of dismissed to 490.

The purged diplomats had entered into foreign service between the years of 1992 and 2016. Some of the dismissed diplomats were later arrested on trumped up charges. Among jailed diplomats include three prominent ambassadors Gürcan Balık (a top diplomat who worked as chief foreign policy adviser to former President Abdullah Gül and special adviser to former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu), Tuncay Babalı (former ambassador to Canada, deputy chief of cabinet to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and a fellow at the Harvard Weatherhead Center for International Affairs) and Ali Fındık (former ambassador to Costa Rica).

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 turkeypurge.com)

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