Turkish gov’t detains 34 police officers over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government on Wednesday detained 34 police officers in seven provinces across Turkey in an Ordu-based probe targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement as part of a post-coup witch hunt launched in the wake of a controversial military coup on July 15, 2016.

The detentions in Ordu, Erzurum, Bursa, Van, Samsun, Trabzon and Tokat provinces took place following the issuance of detentions warrants by the Ordu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 35 police officers who were dismissed from their jobs by government decrees under emergency rule over 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 autocratic 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, 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, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “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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