Turkish gov’t targets 4,167 Turkish teachers in 160 countries over Gülen links

The Turkish government has targeted 4,167 teachers who work at 400 schools in 160 countries around the world as part of its post-coup global witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by online news outlet Kronos Haber on Thursday, the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has referred three teachers who were detained in Gabon and handed over to Turkey’s notorious National Intelligence Organisation (MİT), in violation of due process for extradition according to international law, to the court and demanded their arrest following interrogation.

Prosecutors described the teachers’ alleged role in the Gülen movement in court documents and stated that the Gülen movement has 400 schools in 160 countries around the world and that they have determined that 4,167 teachers work for these schools. They said they have also started investigations into all of these teachers as well.

Prosecutors have requested the arrest of teachers Osman Özpınar, İbrahim Akbaş and Adnan Demirönal, who were abducted from Gabon, accusing them of “being a member and an executive of an armed terrorist organisation” and “international espionage.”

Three Turkish educators and their families who were arbitrarily detained in Libreville, the capital city of Gabon, were handed over to MİT agents and taken to İstanbul by private jet on April 8, 2018. After the arrival of the 13 Turkish nationals in İstanbul the police released the spouses and children of the three teachers, who were taken to the police department for interrogation.

MİT also abducted six Turkish nationals linked to the Gülen movement from Kosovo on March 29, 2018.

So far, a number of countries have handed over academics, businessmen and school principals upon the Turkish government’s request over their alleged links to the Gülen movement despite the fact that some of those victims already had refugee status with the United Nations. Among them are Saudi Arabia (16 people), Malaysia (7 people), Pakistan (4 people), Sudan (1 person), Qatar (45 people), Kosovo (6 people), Kazakhstan (1 person) and Myanmar (1 person).

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. 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. Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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