Turkish gov’t detains 27 people over their alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government on Saturday detained 27 people, including 12 military officers on active duty, across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, police detained 12 military officers in various Turkish provinces in a Van-based investigation into alleged members of the Gülen movement. Four more people are reportedly being sought as part of the operation.

Also on Saturday, police detained 12 people in Bursa province for alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was claimed that the detainees are members of new formation of the movement, and they were accused of assuring financial support for the families of Gülen movement members who have been dismissed from their state jobs and jailed.

Moreover, three police officers who were dismissed from their jobs by a government decree under a now-ended state of emergency over alleged links to the Gülen movement were detained by border security forces in Edirne province as they were allegedly trying to flee persecution in Turkey to Greece. The detainees were identified as Ramazan S. (33), Bahtiyar Ş. (27) and Burhan S. (32).

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Many have tried to flee Turkey via illegal means as the government had cancelled the passports of thousands of people.

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 the coup attempt in July 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 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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