Turkish police detain 5 people for attending protests against gov’t media crackdown in 2014

Five people were detained on Tuesday for attending local protests in Sakarya province against the detention of Ekrem Dumanlı, former editor-in-chief of the now-closed Zaman daily, and Hidayet Karaca, former chairman of now-closed Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, in 2014, as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The detainees are reportedly former employees of Feza College and a prep school, both of which were earlier closed down over their alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.

According to the media, the detainees are accused of affiliation with the movement due to their attendance at local protests against the government crackdown on media in 2014.

A Turkish court in Edirne province ruled for the arrest of four people who attended similar protests in the northwestern Turkish province on October 25, 2017.

The Turkish government detained journalists Dumanlı and Karaca on terrorism charges as part of its increasing pressure on the Gülen movement on Dec. 14, 2014. While the former was later released pending trial, Karaca has been under arrest since then. Subscribers of both outlets protested the detentions in peaceful demonstrations and in press statements across the country.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 240 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 24, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 179 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 144 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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. (SCF with turkey purge.com)

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