50 more prisons under construction for Gülen movement people

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Turkish Justice Ministry Undersecretary Kenan İpek (Okan Ozer / Anadolu Agency)

Turkish Justice Ministry Undersecretary Kenan İpek on Tuesday said more than 50 prisons are under construction for the incarceration of people linked to the Gülen movement, Habertürk reported.

“More than 50 prisons have been under construction for FETÖ [a derogatory term invented by the government against Gülen movement people]. Each of them have a capacity for 1,000 people,” İpek told journalists during a reception held for the new judicial year in Ankara on Tuesday.

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 the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President 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.

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.

İpek’s statement has been criticized on social media as an admission of 50,000 more arrests of Gülen movement followers without any court case, while some compared prisons for Gülen movement people to concentration camps.

At least 22,000 inmates are forced to sleep on the floor as the prison population has exceeded 224,000 for the first time in Turkey’s history, the artigercek news website reported last week.

In August, the Turkish Justice Ministry announced that out of 381 prisons in Turkey, 139 of them were built in the last 10 years and 38 were constructed last year.

Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Basri Bağcı informed Parliament in May said that seventy-six prisons are under construction, 113 prisons are in process and 18 more are planned.

Tens of thousands of people are replacing real criminals in Turkey’s prisons as a result of the purge that has been targeting journalists, businesspeople, academics, and others from all walks of life without due process.

Turkey’s post-coup witch-hunt against followers of the faith-based Gülen movement is tantamount to genocide, Renee Vaugeois, a Canadian human rights specialist, said in an interview in July.

“This a targeted war on a specific group of people in Turkey and to me that speaks to genocide,” Vaugeois, the executive director of the Edmonton-based John Humphrey Centre for Peace & Human Rights, told the state-run CBC news.

The government and President Erdoğan recently announced that Gülen movement people under arrest would be required to wear identical prison uniforms when appearing in court.

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