Greek authorities on Monday have started asylum procedures for a group of Turkish asylum seekers who posted a video on social media appealing for help.
The group was taken to a police station, and according to their lawyer asylum procedures were initiated.
Elhamdulillah şimdi bilgi geldi. Resmî işlemler başlamış. Emeği geçen görünen görünmeyen tüm kahramanlara SONSUZ TEŞEKKÜRLER 🙏
— Mehmet Ali Uludağ (@MAliuludag_) February 27, 2023
The group had appealed to Greek authorities for help in a video posted on Twitter on Monday morning. The 10 people, including three children, appeared to have recently crossed the Evros River. Covered in mud and looking very cold, they asked the Greek authorities to accept their request for asylum.
Zühre Gürsoy, who appears in the video holding her 11-month-old baby, said she had been sentenced to six years, 10 months in prison for links to the Gülen movement. She said her two other children were currently with Greek child welfare services and that she wanted to be reunited with them. Her 4-year-old daughter, who also is in the video, was suffering from shingles and needed help, she said.
Osman Kanpolat, another man who appears in the video, said he fled to Greece with his wife and daughter and requested asylum from the Greek authorities.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Social media users re-posted the video, attempting to bring it to the attention of the Greek authorities.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.