Turkish gov’t detains 11 women and dozens more over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has detained 11 women in 7 provinces in a Bursa-based probe on Thursday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police have detained 11 women in Bursa, İstanbul, Balıkesir, Gaziantep, Zonguldak, Van and Kütahya provinces following the detention warrants were issued by Bursa Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 15 women.

In a separate operation in the same province, police detained eight others, including a teacher and an employee of a local mufti’s office. Some detainees were allegedly using mobile phone messaging application ByLock. Others had allegedly invested money in Bank Asya — an Islamic lender closed down by the government over its affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

On Thursday, police have also detained 38 more people over alleged links to the Gülen movement across the country. In northwestern Çanakkale province, 18 military personnel, including 17 on-duty soldiers, were detained. The detentions came during simultaneous operations which were carried out as part of investigations by the provincial chief public prosecutor into a Naval Forces Command.

Separately, five people, including former police officials, were detained in the Mediterranean Antalya province. Also, in southwestern Denizli province, seven people were detained in various police raids in the province for using ByLock.

A nephew of US-based Turkish-Muslim scholar Fetullah Gülen was arrested in province of Sakarya for his alleged links to the Gülen movement on Thursday, according to a report by state-run Anadolu news agency. As part of a probe conducted by Sakarya Chief Prosecutor’s Office, Tavus Bin Keysan Gülen was remanded in custody on charges of “establishing and managing an armed terrorist organisation.” Gülen was detained by police at his house in Umraniye district of İstanbul on October 6, 2017.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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.

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