Turkish gov’t detains 34 people, jails 18 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has detained at least 34 people across Turkey while it has jailed 18 others on Monday as part of its ongoing massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Twenty-four military officers, some of whom were on-duty officers, were detained during operations conducted simultaneously in 15 different provinces as part of a Giresun-based investigation targeting the movement.

Also, in northwestern Bilecik province, 7 people were detained over the same accusation on Monday. In central Eskişehir province, a former teacher was detained as part of an investigation launched by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of the city. The detainee identified by initials I.K., had been accused of using mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

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.

Meanwhile, 2 people were also detained by gendarmerie in northwestern Edirne province while they were allegedly on their way to flee Turkey’s post-coup crackdown to Greece on Monday. A woman, identified as H.S., as well as her three children were stopped in the Saçlımüsellim village in Edirne. It was reported that he woman and the children are family members of Ö.S., an Edirne man who is being sought by police over his alleged ties to the Gülen movement.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.  Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others.

Also on Monday, 11 former gendarmerie personnel were arrested by a local court and sent to prison by the 3th High Criminal Court in Samsun province, for terms ranging from 1 year and 6 months to 7 years and 6 months.

Also, seven former police personnel were given prison sentences, ranging from 3 years and 9 months, and 7 years and 6months, by the High Criminal Court in Rize, the Black Sea province of Turkey.

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.

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.”

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