Turkish gov’t detains 537 people in a week over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 537 people have been detained in the past week due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The Interior Ministry announced on March 12 that 740 people had been taken into custody the previous week due to alleged links to the movement.

Turkish police detained a total of 4,725 people over alleged links to the movement in the first two months of 2018.

Autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government pursued a crackdown on the Gülen movement following corruption operations in December 2013 in which the inner circle of the government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan were implicated.

Meanwhile, at least four people were detained in a Kayseri-based operation against the Gülen movement on Friday. The pro-government private Doğan news agency reported that the detainees are accused of raising financial support for jailed supporters of the movement. One of the detainees, identified only as L.K., reportedly brought around TL 10,000 [$2,900] from İstanbul to Kayseri, while the other three were supposed to distribute the money to their friends in prison.

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.

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.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on March 15, 2018 that at least 402,000 people have been the subject of legal proceedings initiated by the Turkish government over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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.” (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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