Turkish gov’t detains 30,433 people in 9 months for alleged links to ‘terrorism’

The Turkish government has detained more than 30,000 people in the past nine months for alleged links to the Gülen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to figures released by the Interior Ministry on Tuesday.

According to the ministry figures reported by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA), the detention of 30,433 people took place during counterterrorism operations conducted across the country from Jan. 1 to Sept. 23.

In this period, 11,917 people, including foreign nationals, were detained for alleged links to the PKK, of whom 2,707 were put into pretrial detention.

Turkish authorities also detained 18,516 people in the same period, with 3,380 of them put in jail, as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

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 organization,” 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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