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

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

Following the detention warrants issued by Antalya Chief Prosecutor’s Office, police have detained 25 people in Antalya province on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that there are one of the now-closed private lender Bank Asya’s local managers, a handicapped person and teachers who used to work for the private schools which were closed by government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Meanwhile, Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 7 personnel of Turkish Health Ministry, including 3 medical doctors, over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock, on Wednesday. It was reported that the doctors and other health workers were previously dismissed by government decrees over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Also, in a Kayseri-based investigation, 4 people were detained in Kayseri, İstanbul, Manisa and Kırşehir provinces over their alleged use of ByLock following detention warrants issued for 8 people on Wednesday.

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.

Centered in northern Karabük province, simultaneous police raids were conducted in 11 provinces, including İstanbul, Eskişehir, Bursa and Muş provinces and 13 people were detained on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Separately, 8 people were detained in Ankara, İstanbul, Amasya, Samsun, Konya and Çorum provinces on Wednesday as part of a probe by Çankırı Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Also on Wednesday, 5 people were detained by police over their alleged links to the movement. Furthermore, another 7 people were detained in Black Sea province Ordu and in central Kayseri province for allegedly using ByLock.

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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