Turkish gov’t detains 209 people over links to Gülen movement in past week

The Turkish government detained a total of 209 people last week (July 23-July 30) as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the Turkish Interior Ministry on Monday.

Police took 15,190 people into custody over alleged links to the movement in the first half of 2018.

Detention warrants were issued on Monday for 19 former personnel of Gazi University who were dismissed by a government decree under a two-year-long state of emergency over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Ten of those being sought were detained following the issuance of the warrants by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. One of them is reportedly abroad, while attempts are being made to detain the remaining eight in four Turkish provinces.

Also on Monday, following the issuance of detention warrants by the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 25 police officers who were dismissed by the Turkish government under the state of emergency, police detained 21 of them over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was claimed that some of the detainees were alleged users of the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among 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 a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The government dismissed a total of 18,632 public employees from their jobs by a government decree issued under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to the Official Gazette (Resmi Gazete) published on July 8, 2018.

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 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 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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