Turkish gov’t detains 37 people, arrests 5 students over their alleged links with Gülen movement

Turkish police carried out operations to detain 12 members and executives of the Elazig-based Harput Active Women Association, which was earlier shuttered by the government over alleged links with Gülen movement.

Turkish police on early Tuesday detained 25 people from various professions in simultaneous operations as part of the Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of Gülen movement in an Adana-based operation for their alleged use of a smart phone application known as ByLock. The detentions of took place in İstanbul, Şanlıurfa as well as Adana.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.

Moreover on Tuesday, 5 out of 14 current or former students of Bilecik Seyh Edebali University were arrested by a Bilecik court as part of the Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of Gülen movement on Monday. Police carried out operations to detain 14 suspects in Bilecik, Manisa, Kocaeli, Hakkari, Bursa and İstanbul on May 18 and 19. The detainees were either students or alumni. A Bilecik court arrested 5 of them while releasing the remaining 9 on judicial control.

Meanwhile, at least 12 women were detained as part of the Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of Gülen movement on Monday. Turkish police carried out operations to detain 12 members and executives of the Elazig-based Harput Active Women Association, which was earlier shuttered by the government over alleged links with Gülen movement. Among the detainees are the chairman, founders and board members of the now-defunct women association.

It is also reported that an Erzurum court on May 24 sentenced a real estate agent, identified as N.D., to 8 years and 9 months in jail over his alleged membership to the Gülen movement. Among the evidence for N.D.’s conviction was his attendance in a local protest against the detentions of journalists Ekrem Dumanlı and Hidayet Karaca in Dec. 14, 2014, his efforts to encourage people to subscribe the now-defunct Zaman newspaper and Sızıntı magazine and his donations to the movement.

Already under pre-trial imprisonment since Aug. 17, 2016, N.D. reportedly burst into tears after the judge announced the verdict. “I am toast. O God, please destroy those who have destroyed me. I didn’t commit any crime. I refer those who persecute me to Your punishment. I beg You to defeat them. What would happen to my kids? Who would look after them? Long live hell for oppressors!” N.D. cried  before he was forced out of the court room through the prison.

The military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s 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.

According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com & turkeypurge.com) May 30, 2017

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