Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 70 teachers and more over alleged links to Gülen movement

File photo.

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for 70 teachers on Friday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Following the detention warrants in an Ankara-based investigation, police have launched operations in 11 provinces across Turkey to detain 70 teachers who were former staff members at private schools closed by a government decree under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Twenty seven of the 29 teachers, who were detained on Friday, were accused of using mobile phone messaging application ByLock. A total of 1,803 people were detained in the first three weeks of 2018 as part of a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement.

Moreover, at least 12 educators were detained as part of an investigation into the alleged members of the Gülen movement in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin on Thursday. Detention warrants were issued for 18 women who were found to have taught at private schools and universities affiliated with the Gülen movement. Police carried out operations in several provinces and detained 12 of the suspects while the remaining were being sought at the time of this writing.

Also on Friday, in a Kayseri-based investigation 15 people were detained following the detention warrants  issued by Kayseri Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 23 people in 17 provinces over their alleged use of ByLock.

A detention warrant was also issued on Friday for Fatih Samed Kılıç, son of Haşim Kılıç, a former chief justice of the Constitutional Court, as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Kılıç has been accused of using 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.

A detention warrant for a person was issued by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office on Friday in the eastern Erzincan province over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Separately in the northwestern Tekirdag province, 15 people were detained on Friday for allegedly financially supporting the Gülen movement. The detentions came after the Tekirdag Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 20 people.

In another operation in the western city of Bursa, 10 police officers, who were dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency, were detained on Friday.

Also on Friday, after local prosecutors in the eastern Erzincan province issued detention warrants for 19 on-duty military officers, police launched an operation in 15 provinces to apprehend them.

Meanwhile, an Adana court has sentenced the last president of the now-defunct Nizam Lawyers’ Association, identified as S.U., to 9 years in jail on terror charges. S.U., a lawyer who chaired the Adana-based Nizam Lawyers’ Association until it was closed in a post-coup emergency decree, appeared during his final hearing on Thursday. Under arrest for some time over alleged ties to the Gülen movement, S.U. pleaded not guilty on charges of “membership to an armed terror group,” and asked for his release. Yet, the court in charge turned down his request, giving him 9-year prison sentence.

Another Adana court sentenced a former judge who was earlier dismissed from his job over alleged links to the Gülen movement, to 7,5 years in jail the same day.

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 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, 201. “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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