Turkish border forces detain 4 people over Gülen links while trying to flee to Greece

Turkish border security forces on Monday detained four people identified as İ.A., Ç.B., T.B. and M.A. in the border zone of Edirne province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as they were allegedly trying to flee to Greece.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Many have tried to flee Turkey via illegal means as the government had cancelled the passports of thousands of people.

The bodies of Hatice Akçabay and her 1-year-old son Bekir Aras, who went missing when a boat capsized on July 20, 2018, have been found on the Turkish banks of the Evros River, the tr724 news website reported.

The Akçabay family — father Murat, mother Hatice (36), children Ahmet Esat (7), Mesut (5) and Bekir Aras (1) — were trying to flee Turkey and reach Greece on July 19, 2018 due to an ongoing government crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement. When the boat capsized only Murat Akçabay managed to reach Greek side of the river, while the four other family members went missing.

On Feb. 13, at least three people died and five others went missing after another boat carrying a group of eight capsized in the Evros River while seeking to escape the post-coup crackdown in Turkey.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since the coup attempt in July 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organisation,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 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. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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