Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been waging a relentless war against followers of the faith-based Gülen movement in Turkey for the past several years, has said Gülen movement sympathizers in the country will not enjoy the right to life.
Speaking at a rally in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak on Tuesday, Erdoğan said: “We are purging every Gülenist in the army, in the police and in state institutions. And we will continue cleansing [these organizations of] them because we will eradicate this cancer from the body of this country and the state. They will not enjoy the right to life. They divided this nation, this Ummah [Islamic nation]. Our fight against them will continue until the end. We won’t leave them wounded.”
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 which killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.
Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.
In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.
According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention.
The AKP government and Erdoğan launched their war against the Gülen movement in late 2013 in the aftermath of the eruption of a corruption scandal in which Erdoğan’s close circle was implicated. Erdoğan also accuses the movement of masterminding the corruption investigations to topple his government while the movement strongly denies the charge.
*Video courtesy of The Globe Post.