Undersecretary of Justice Ministry: Turkish gov’t to build more than 50 prisons for Gülen followers

Kenan İpek

Kenan İpek, the Undersecretary of Turkey’s Justice Ministry, has stated that Turkish government is building more than 50 new prisons for the alleged members of the Gülen movement on Tuesday. Speaking to journalists during a reception held on the occasion of the start of judiciary year in Turkey, İpek has said that the capacity of each prisons will be for 1000 prisoners.

It was reported by the Artı Gerçek news website last Wednesday that at least 22,000 inmates are forced to sleep on jail floors as the number of prisoners reaches more than 224,000 for the first time in Turkey’s history. According to the report, 202,000 inmates can be accommodated in current prisons, in which more than 224,000 prisoners are staying, forcing 22,000 to sleep on jail floors.

A Cumhuriyet daily report has also said the budget assigned to prisons is more than the budget of many ministries as the annual cost of incarcerating more than 224,000 prisoners is TL 6 billion 402 million.

In the meantime, by means of recently issued new decrees, 3,000 more convicts will be released immediately on probation unless they were convicted of terrorism, sexual crimes or coup involvement. In addition, a total of 10,000 convicts will move from closed to open prisons. Last August, Turkey had released 38,000 convicts from prisons to make room for victims of an ongoing purge in overcrowded jails.

Earlier this month, the Turkish Justice Ministry announced that out of 381 prisons in Turkey, 139 of them were built in the last 10 years and 38 were constructed last year.

Tens of thousands of people are replacing real criminals in Turkey’s prisons as a result of the purge that has been targeting journalists, businesspeople, academics, and others from all walks of life without due process.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic 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. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.


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