Turkish gov’t intensifies mass detentions targeting alleged members of Gülen movement

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

İstanbul police have detained 48 people on Thursday following the detention warrants issued by Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 60 people over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

Also, in a Trabzon-based investigation 31 people were detained in Trabzon, İstanbul, Erzurum and Kocaeli provinces on Thursday over their alleged use of ByLock. It was reported that there are academics, doctors, teachers who were dismissed from their duties by government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and shopkeepers.

Moreover, detention warrants were issued for 121 Turkish diplomats who were dismissed following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, as part of investigations into the movement. It was reported that police launched operations to detain 121 former diplomats in 30 provinces on accusations that they use ByLock.

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 homemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

In a Tunceli-based probe, 21 people were detained by police on Thursday in 19 provinces across Turkey over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, the Konya and Trabzon chief public prosecutor’s offices have issued detention warrants for 84 soldiers of various ranks as part of a witch-hunt targeting people claimed to have links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of orchestrating a failed coup in Turkey last year, Turkish media reported on Thursday. According to the reports, police launched operations in 43 provinces to detain the 84 soldiers.

Moreover, Turkey’s Education Ministry closed down four private schools as part of an administrative investigation targeting the Gülen movement. According to state-run Anadolu news agency on Thursday, Bahar Primary School and Bahar Secondary School in the capital Ankara, Morbir Pre-school in Hatay province and Bornova Umut High School in İzmir were shuttered over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The total number of schools, dormitories and universities that saw closure over alleged links to the Gülen movement since a failed coup on July 15, 2016 rose up to 3,003.

Also, a trustee panel of 6, appointed to run the government-seized freezer company Uğur has dismissed all personnel bearing the same surname with the owners. An Aydın court ruled to seize Uğur along with 47 other enterprises over their alleged links to the Gülen movement earlier this month.

Pro-government Sabah daily reported that government-appointed trustees took office Oct. 23, fired all company personnel with the surname, Takmaklı on their very first day. Jailed only 13 days after the last year’s failed coup, Ünal Takmaklı, one of the founders of Uğur, died of a heart attack in prison in November 2016. Ünal’ Takmaklı’s brothers and current owners of the company, Ali and Mehmet Takmaklı, also spent some 8 months before being released pending trial in March 2016.

Nearly 1,000 companies with a total value of $12 billion in assets have been seized and then transferred to TMSF since the coup attempt. The companies in question were mostly targeted as part of the government crackdown against the movement.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempton July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic 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, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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