Turkish gov’t detains 920, arrests 45 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

Turkish Interior Ministry has stated in a press release that 920 people were detained by police and 45 people were arrested by courts over alleged links with the Gülen movement over the past seven days as part of the operations against the movement within post-coup witch hunt.

On Monday, ninety-five individuals were detained across Turkey as part of a witch-hunt targeting people allegedly linked to the Gülen movement. According to the official sources, 11 military personnel, 23 police and 11 academics were among those detained as part of investigations launched in İzmir, Giresun, Balıkesir, Edirne, Erzincan, Siirt and Kilis provinces. Seventeen suspects are still at large.

Twenty-one people have been detained by Turkish police teams as part of an operation based in the eastern province of Siirt against alleged followers of the faith-based Gülen movement on Monday. The detentions took place across 10 provinces as part of an investigation conducted by the Siirt Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Gülen movement which is inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen who has been a vocal critic of Turkish government and Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on corruption as well as the government’s aiding and abetting of radical groups in Middle East. Erdoğan launched a witch-hunt persecution against Gülen and his followers in December 2013 right after major corruption probe that incriminated Erdoğan’s family members.

Turkish President vowed to pursue members of Gülen movement abroad no matter where they are, shut down all institutions affiliated with the movement and jailed over 46,000 people in the last six months alone. Erdoğan labelled the movement as ‘FETÖ’, a terrorist organization, although Gülen, 75-year old cleric, and his followers have never advocated violence but rather remained staunchly opposed to any violence, radicalism and terror in the name of religion.

Erdoğan has also blamed the failed coup bid last year to Gülen but failed to present any direct evidence linking the cleric to the attempt. Gülen himself strongly denied any involvement. Many believe Erdoğan staged the failed coup himself to set up his critics for a mass persecution and as a pretext to transform secular parliamentary democracy to political Islamist autocracy.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.

Also, a total of 7,316 academics were dismissed and 4,070 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links.

March 6, 2017

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