Turkish gov’t detains 9 people fleeing to Greece to escape persecution in Turkey

The Turkish government detained nine people in Edirne province on Thursday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement as they were reportedly attempting to flee to Greece to escape persecution in Turkey.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Turkish police detained nine adults and six children from four families in Edirne’s Enez district, situated on the Turkish-Greek border. The nine people, who were teachers and public servants fired by government decrees under a now-ended state of emergency, were detained by police and the children were handed over relatives.

Also on Thursday, A.V., an academician who were dismissed from Ankara University by a government decree under the state of emergency, was detained by the soldiers on the security zone near the Yenikadın Border Security Station on Turkish-Greek border in Edirne province. It was reported that A.V. was arrested by a court over his alleged use of ByLock mobile phone phone messaging application.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Many have tried to flee Turkey via illegal means as the government had cancelled the passports of thousands of people.

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 the coup attempt in July 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 organisation,” 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 more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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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