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

Turkish government has detained dozens of people on Tuesday across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

In an Aksaray-based probe, 20 people were detained in 16 provinces on Tuesday following the detention warrants issued by Aksaray Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 36 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Police have detained 20 people during raids to houses in Aksaray, Ankara, İstanbul, Konya, Afyonkarahisar, Erzincan, Elazığ, Şanlıurfa, Siirt, Antalya, Isparta, Niğde, Kırşehir, Uşak, Kahramanmaraş and Kocaeli provinces.

Police have also detained 17 people, including 4 women, in Bursa province on Tuesday over their alleged links to the movement. It was reported that some of the detainees were alleged user of mobile phone messaging application ByLock. Bursa Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued warrants for 17 suspects who used to work as teachers and executives at the schools and a kindergarten which were closed over their alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the 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 the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Moreover, 5 people, including a woman, were detained in Uşak province on Monday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, a private dormitory in Samsun’s Çarsamba district that has been affiliated with the Gülen movement until it was seized by the Turkish government was transferred to the İstanbul-based, pro-government Women and Democracy Association (KADEM).

According to reports in local media, the dormitory building in Çarsamba’s Sungurlu neigborhood was transferred to KADEM following the approval of the Finance Ministry, dated Nov 13, 2017. Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter, Sümeyye Erdoğan is the one of the deputy chairs of KADEM. Hundreds of schools, dormitories and foundations linked to the Gülen movement were closed down by the government in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “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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