Turkish FM: At least 30 countries shut down schools affiliated with Gülen movement

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated on Wednesday that at least 30 countries have shut down schools and institutions affiliated with the Gülen movement and expressed his expectation for the closure of all worldwide schools and institutions linked to the movement.

Speaking to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Çavuşoğlu also claimed, “We will have some positive results from Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia about the closure of FETÖ institutions in the coming days.”

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement.

Çavuşoğlu reminded that Turkey vowed to wage a global fight against alleged members of the movement after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. “At least 30 countries have shut down FETÖ schools, institutions and associations so far, and Turkey’s Maarif Foundation took over these schools in close to 20 countries,” Çavuşoğlu added.

Turkey established the Maarif Foundation (TMF) in 2016 after the coup attempt to take over the administration of overseas schools affiliated with the Gülen movement.

Çavuşoğlu also said the Turkish government has prioritized bringing back so-called fugitive members of the Gülen movement to Turkey and that they have warned Balkan countries against the “serious threats” posed by the movement.

“We said FETÖ is obviously very strong in Albania and has influence in Albanian politics. It’s the same in Kosovo. The Maarif Foundation took over a university in Albania, and hopefully we will establish a new university campus in Kosovo,” he said.

The Turkish government has launched both a domestic and a global crackdown on the Gülen movement, accusing it of orchestrating a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

As a result of the global witch-hunt, more than 100 Gülen-linked Turkish nationals were brought back to Turkey through intelligence service operations and with the cooperation of other countries, including Moldova, Kosovo, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Gabon, and Myanmar.

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 a coup attempt on July 15, 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 organization,” 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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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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