Addressing students being sent abroad on scholarships, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak has said he would strangle supporters of the Gülen movement wherever he sees them, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Friday.
Claiming that Gülen movement members, who the Turkish government accuses of having mounted a botched coup attempt last summer, were working on defaming Turkey, Albayrak said: “You’ll probably see them in the countries you are visiting. By God, I could barely contain myself if I were you. I would strangle them wherever I see them.”
Journalists Cem Küçük and Fuat Uğur, staunch supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made a call in June for the assassination of followers of the faith-based Gülen movement who are abroad.
Küçük, a staunchly pro-government journalist known for his attacks on government critics on social media, suggested that Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters living overseas were willing to carry out the assassinations and that the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has the authority to carry out such acts outside the country. Küçük added that Turks living abroad were willing to sacrifice themselves and that they know where Gülen followers are living.
Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi said last year that that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government would punish plotters of the failed military coup attempt so severely that they will beg for death.
“We will put them into such holes [jails] for punishment that they won’t even be able to see the sun of God as long as they breathe. They will not see the light of day. They will not hear a human voice. They will beg for death, saying ‘just kill us’,” said Zeybekçi.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch AKP government along with President 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’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.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15.