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Military member purged over links to lieutenant killed in 2019 offensive in Syria

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A member of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was dismissed over alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement due to his links to Çelebi Bozbıyık, a lieutenant who was killed in 2019 in an offensive launched in Syria, among others, the Kronos news website reported on Thursday, citing a purged military officer.

Purged lieutenant Ali Çavdar on Thursday revealed in a series of tweets that being linked to Bozbıyık, who died in the Operation Peace Spring offensive that was launched on Oct. 9, 2019 and targeted the People’s Protection Units (YPG) along the Turkish-Syrian border, was one of the reasons for the purge of one of his fellow military officers following a failed coup in Turkey in 2016. He did not reveal the name of the purged military officer out of concerns for his safety.

The YPG, a Syrian Kurdish armed group, is viewed by Ankara as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and thus a terrorist organization.

Sharing photos of court documents that included Bozbıyık’s name, Çavdar said, “[They say] my [purged] friend has links to him. So, who is this Çelebi Bozbıyık? … The man was martyred. Although he knew there was an investigation into him [due to his alleged Gülen links], he … did his job, and was martyred in Operation Peace Spring in Syria.”

“Whether you become a martyr for the country or you remain [alive], you will eventually [be alleged to have] become a traitor. It is such a pity,” he added.

Following the failed coup on July 15, 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, summarily dismissing some 130,000 public servants, including nearly 30,000 military personnel, for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

The AKP’s post-coup crackdown ruined the lives of tens of thousands in Turkey who have been targets of hate speech, hate crimes, unlawful prosecution, torture and abductions, among other serious human rights violations.

Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs; they were also banned from working again in the public sector and getting a passport. The government also made it difficult for them to work formally in the private sector.

Most dismissed civil servants are accused of links to the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, but there were many others who belonged to other opposition groups.

The ruling AKP labels the movement as a terrorist organization and accuses them of masterminding the abortive putsch, although Gülen and his followers strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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