Turkish gov’t detains 26 civil society activists on alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government has issued detention warrants for 64 people over their membership in civil society organisations (CSOs) that were closed by a state of emergency government decree in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, over their alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Police detained 26 of them on Friday in nine provinces across Turkey.

The detentions came after the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 64 people who played active roles in the activities of the now-closed, Gülen movement-affiliated Zühal Business and Women’s Association, the Association of Studies on History and Culture, the Mehtap Young Academy Association, the Boğaziçi Youth, Sport and Scouting Club Association and the Active Marmara Educators Association.

Meanwhile, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on Friday that detention warrants had been issued for 23 gendarmes, including three still on active duty, over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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 more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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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