2,331 more detained last week in witch-hunt targeting Gülen movement

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The Turkish Ministry of Interior announced on Monday that 2,331 people were detained in operations targeting the Gülen movement last week.

The operations were carried out across Turkey between April 24 and 30.

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 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.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 2 that a total of 113,260 people have been detained, 47,155 people including 10,732 police officers, 7,631 military officers, 2,575 judges and prosecutors and 208 local administrative officials were arrested as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the putsch.

Over 140,000 people from state institutions have been purged since July 15.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, an indictment drafted by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office says the majority of military officers allegedly linked to the movement did not participate in the coup attempt, Al Jazeera Turk reported on April 14.

According to the report, only two out of 47 colonels who were identified as being Gülen movement members by a secret witness took part in the coup attempt. Similarly, only 300 out of 800 officers who were claimed to be using a smart phone application known as ByLock, which is considered by Turkish authorities to be the top communication tool among followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, participated in the failed coup.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he had not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.

In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.

In February, Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, said that many generals purged by the Turkish government are pro-NATO and pro-American, saying this could create a shift in Turkey-NATO relations.

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