Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 47 teachers over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for over 47 teachers and police have detained 19 of them in an Ankara-based probe on Wednesday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA),  Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants on Wednesday for 47 teachers, who used to work at schools which were closed by a government decree under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of the controversial coup military attempt on July 15, 2016 over their alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.

I was also alleged that out of 47 teachers being wanted, 28 used mobile phone messaging application 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 even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkish police have launched an Ankara-based operation, spanning 12 other provinces, following the warrants and 19 teachers have been detained so far.

Also on Wednesday, police have detained 7 people in Konya province following the detention warrants issued by Konya Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 10 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Moreover, Faruk Akkaş, the uncle of Muammer Akkaş, who was the prosecutor of December 17-25, 2013 corruption investigation incriminated then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his family members and his cabinet ministers, was arrested by a local court in Isparta province on Wednesday.

Akkaş, who is a jeweller in Antalya, has been detained by police in the city and transferred to Isparta province over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was claimed that Faruk Akkaş used to a member to executive board of a private school, which was closed by a government decree over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.

At least 10 people were detained in Turkey’s border province of Edirne while they were on their way to escape to the Greece, Turkish media reported on Monday. According to the report, Turkish gendarmerie stopped a car near the Elçili village in Edirne and rounded up 10 people, some of whom were facing warrants over alleged ties to the Gülen movement.

The detainees included 2 teachers, 5 children and 3 others. Gendarmerie also detained a driver on charges of human smuggling. Seized were an inflatable boat, a pump, a paddle and 10 life vests. Media said the children were handed over to their relatives while the remaining were being questioned over their quest to escape from Turkey illegally.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others. On Feb 13, at least three people died and five others were missing after a boat carrying a group of eight capsized in the Evros River while seeking to escape a post-coup crackdown in Turkey.

Furthermore, Turkish courts have sentenced 9 people in prison over their alleged links yo the Gülen movement on Wednesday, according to a report by the AA.

A court in the northern province of Ordu has sentenced 4 people to over 6 years apiece while a person in the northwestern Kocaeli province was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months and another from the central-eastern Malatya province got over 2 years over their allege links to the movement. Also a court in the northern Kastamonu province sentenced 2 teachers to some 9-10 years over the same charge.

Ayşegül Jale Saraç

Also on Wednesday, former Dicle University President Prof. Dr. Ayşegül Jale Saraç, who was arrested as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement, was released. She had been charged with “being an executive at an armed terrorist organization.”

Saraç had been suspended from her job by the Board of Higher Education (YÖK), detained on July 20, 2016 and arrested on July 24, 2016. During the hearing at Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court, prosecutor demanded the continuation of imprisonment of Saraç and the university’s Vice President Prof. Dr. Aytekin Sır. However, the court ruled for Saraç and Sır to be released with the condition of an international travel ban.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated on Tuesday his despotic regime’s firm stance against the the alleged members of the Gülen movement which he labelled as a “terror organisation.”

“We are determined to eradicate this organization all over the world,” Erdoğan said in a joint news conference alongside his Macedonian counterpart Gjorge Ivanov in Ankara and added that“In this context, we really want to see concrete steps by Macedonia in the fight against FETO [Fetullah Terrorist Organization].”

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Turkish autocratic President Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement,

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, 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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