Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday accused Belgium of being an important center for supporters of both the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen who is accused by Ankara of orchestrating a failed coup attempt on July 15.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Despite Gülen, whose views inspired the movement, and the movement having denied the accusation, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
More than 110,000 people have been purged from state bodies, in excess of 80,000 detained and over 36,000 have been arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian. Critics argue that lists of Gülen sympathizers were drawn up prior to the coup attempt.
Erdoğan, speaking to reporters in Ankara before leaving for an official visit to Pakistan, also said he has showed German officials documentary proof that an organization in Germany was collecting money for PKK militants.
The PKK, which has carried out a three-decade armed insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish Southeast, is considered a terrorist group by Europe, the United States and Turkey. Ankara says its Western allies are not doing enough to fight the group.
President Erdoğan in recent remarks also accused Germany of supporting terrorism after German authorities suggested that Berlin may not extradite suspects wanted by Turkey over the failed coup attempt in July, if it considers the cases to be politically motivated. Erdoğan also accused Berlin of failing to clamp down on PKK militants allegedly operating in Germany.