Turkish gov’t detains 36 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government detained 36 people on Friday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police detained 20 former employees of the Turkish Health Ministry on Friday following the issuance of detention warrants by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 30 former staff members of the ministry over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Seventeen of the detainees were reportedly dismissed from their jobs by government decrees under a now-ended state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Three of them were working in the private sector.

Police also detained 16 people, mostly teachers, in İzmir over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Friday. It was reported that the detained teachers were previously dismissed by the Turkish government decrees under the state of emergency.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday that at least 53 people detained across Turkey on Friday as part of an investigation into alleged members of the Gülen movement at Turkish Air Forces.

The report said Turkish police conducted operations in the country’s 13 provinces, including Diyarbakır. Seven of the suspects are on-duty personnel.

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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