Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt continues with more detentions and arrests

Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged followers of the Gülen movement has continued on Thursday with new detentions and arrests in several provinces of Turkey.

Thirty-two police officers, who were previously dismissed from their duties by government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, were detained in İzmir over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging app ByLock. It was reported that the detentions have come following the detention warrants for 49 former police officers have been issued by İzmir Chief Prosecutor Office on Thursday.

Also in Muğla province, 14 people were detained by police forces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that Muğla Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for these people over their alleged use of ByLock.

Meawhile, 22 out of 35 people, who were detained over their alleged use of ByLock and alleged links to the Gülen movement in Şanlıurfa province, were arrested by a court in the province on Thursday. It was reported that the court has released 13 people with judicial probation while sending 22 people, who are teachers, shopkeepers, nurses, workers etc., to behind the bars.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock indicates membership in the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the controversial coup attempt last year.

In a Tekirdağ-based investigation, 10 more people were arrested by a local court while 13 people were released. The court has decided for 11 out of 13 released people to be under the judicial probation. It was reported that 48 people are still under police detention in Tekirdağ province.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 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.

July 20, 2017

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