Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 197 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

File photo.

The Turkish government issued detention warrants for 197 people on Friday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Ankara and İzmir chief public prosecutor’s offices have issued detention warrants for 197 people, including police officers, military personnel, teachers and executives of the Aksiyon-İş union as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the report, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 66 teachers who were dismissed from their jobs by a government decree under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The same office has also issued detention warrants for 72 executives of the Aksiyon Labour Confederation, which was closed by the Turkish government in wake of the coup attempt over its alleged affiliation with the movement.

Following the issuance of warrants by the prosecutor’s office, police launched operations in 22 provinces to detain the teachers and in 13 provinces to detain the 72 union executives. Fifteen of the teachers being sought have already been detained. Police have also taken into custody 51 of the 72 union executives.

Meanwhile, at least 28 people were arrested in 11 provinces over alleged links to the movement after arrest warrants were issued by the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 43 suspects on Friday

The Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 646 people have been detained in the past week due to alleged links to the Gülen movement. Police detained a total of 2,426 people over alleged links to the movement in the first month of 2018.

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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. 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. 12, 2017. “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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