Turkish gov’t detains dozens of people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government has detained dozens of people, including active duty military officers, across Turkey in the past two days as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

In a Trabzon-based investigation, police detained 14 people, including military officers, on Wednesday in 13 Turkish provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that the detained officers comprised one colonel, three lieutenant colonels, one major, three captains and six lieutenants.

Also on Wednesday 10 people, including two women, were detained by police in Kütahya province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detainees are reportedly shopkeepers, dismissed teachers and nurses.

On Tuesday police also detained 11 people, including six active duty military officers, in Bursa province following the issuance of detention warrants by the provincial chief public prosecutor’s office over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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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