Turkish gov’t detained 493 people last week, 62,895 in 2017 over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 493 people were detained last week due to alleged links to the Gülen movement bringing the total number of people detained in 2017 to 62,895.

The ministry announced on Dec. 25, 2017 that 617 people had been detained the previous week.
According to a ministry statement on Nov. 27, 2,589 people were detained in November over alleged links to the movement, for a total of 5,747 detained in the October-November period. A total of 3,158 people were detained in October in a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, 17 people including judges, prosecutors and military officers were detained on the first day of the new year as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the report, 15 judges, prosecutors and lawyers who were dismissed by the government following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, were detained as part of a Tokat province-based investigation. In a similar development, two military officers were detained in an Ankara investigation.

Kenan Özdemir

Moreover, Kenan Özdemir, a former judge and deputy undersecretary of ministry of justice, has been given 12 years prison sentence over “membership in a terrorist organization.” Özdemir, who was dismissed from profession by the Turkish government in the aftermath of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, was arrested by an Ankara court in August 2016 on charges of using ByLock, a smart phone application that authorities claim is a communication tool between members of the Gülen movement.

According to data compiled by independent monitoring site The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 565 lawyers have been arrested as of November 28, 2017 since July 15, 2016 and 1,448 lawyers were under prosecution as of Oct. 27, 2017. Sixty-nine lawyers have received lengthy prison sentences thus far. Some of the arrested lawyers were reportedly subjected torture and ill treatment. Fourteen of the detained or arrested lawyers are  presidents or former presidents of provincial bar associations.

The Turkish government has arrested a total of 2,431 judges and prosecutors and dismissed 4,424 others since a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Constitutional Court general assembly ruling revealed on early August 2017.

Also on Monday, Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül has claimed that the cases into the alleged members of the Gülen movement will no longer be on Turkey’s agenda this year as commenting on Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting the movement.

“Our members of the judiciary have been working with great sacrifices. FETÖ cases will no longer be on Turkey’s agenda in 2018. Our expectation is for the coup-plotters to receive the necessary sentences within the boundaries of law. Our courts are definitely not working as automatic punishment machines,” Gül has claimed during an interview he gave to the pro-government Sabah daily on Jan. 1, 2018.

“FETÖ” is a pejorative acronym that Turkey’s political Islamist government has been using to defame the Gülen movement.

“The courts are differentiating between the guilty and the innocent … When the people were on democracy watches in public squares after [the coup attempt], our judiciary was also on the same duty in the courthouses. Our members of the judiciary are still on guard,” he claimed and added that the government wants “fair and fast” rulings to be issued by noting that over-long trials harm the reputation of the judicial system.

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 Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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 Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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