Turkish gov’t detains 494 people over links to Gülen movement in past week

The Turkish government detained a total of 494 people last week (Nov. 5-Nov. 12) as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the Turkish Interior Ministry on Monday.

A total of 19,708 people had been detained over alleged links to the movement in 2018 as of the end of September.

Meanwhile, police detained 10 people, including active duty military officers and a prison guard, on Monday in 10 provinces in an Ağrı-based investigation into alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The detentions came following the issuance of warrants by the Ağrı Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 11 people over their alleged links to the movement. The detainees reportedly consist of two lieutenants, four noncommissioned officers, two gendarmerie sergeants, two civilians and a prison guard.

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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