Turkish gov’t detains 556 people over alleged links to Gülen movement in first week of April

The Turkish government has detained 556 people in the course of 52 police operations in 33 provinces across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Sunday, 275 of these detainees are affiliated with the Turkish Armed Forces and are mostly active-duty military officers.

Meanwhile, Turkish police detained 14 people as part of an investigation launched by the Bodrum Chief Public Prosecutor’s office into alleged members of the Gülen movement, the pro-government Sabah daily reported on Sunday. According to the report, 14 people were preparing to leave the country illegally for Greece by means of Bodrum.

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. 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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