Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 12 teachers over alleged links to Gülen movement

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The Turkish government issued detention warrants for 12 teachers on Thursday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday issued detention warrants for the 12 teachers, who used to work at schools shut down following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was also claimed that 11 out of the 12 teachers allegedly used the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

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

Separately, four people were detained in northwestern Edirne province on Thursday. Also in Edirne, border security forces detained six people, including teachers who were dismissed by government decrees under a now-ended state of emergency for alleged links to the movement. The detainees have been identified as Mehmet Ali V. (36), Ümit D. (40) and Ayşe D. (37). Three children were also detained and later put in the care of their relatives.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement. Many have tried to flee Turkey via illegal means as the government had cancelled the passports of thousands of people.

On Wednesday six people including two women were detained in Kahramanmaraş province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detainees reportedly consist of a police officer, a noncommissioned officer and several teachers.

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 the coup attempt in July 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 organisation,” 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 more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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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