US Human Rights Report: Tens of thousands jailed in Turkey with little clarity on charges


Date posted: March 14, 2017

The 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices — the Human Rights Reports — released by the US State Department on Friday said that Turkish courts had imprisoned tens of thousands of people with little clarity on charges and evidence over their alleged links with a failed coup in July 2016 that was blamed on the Gülen movement.

The report on Turkey underlined a large number of purges in state jobs, detentions, arrests, jailed journalists and violation of human rights and freedoms while stating that the Turkish government took limited steps in investigating, punishing and drafting indictments against security forces accused of human rights violations.


According to the report, the AKP government cancelled or refused to issue passports for the minor children of Gülen followers who fled a government witch-hunt that forced family separation.


After pointing out that Turkish authorities put the blame for the failed July 15 coup on the Gülen movement, which is defined as a terrorist group by Turkish government, the US report identified US-based Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the Gülen movement, as a “cleric” and referred to his movement as the “Fethullah Gülen Movement.”

While similar human rights reports consist of 57 pages on Syria, 58 on Saudi Arabia, 59 on Egypt, 48 on Iran, 65 on Iraq, 44 on Azerbaijan, the report on Turkey consists of 73 pages.

According to the report, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government issued decrees under a state of emergency that restricted suspects’ access to legal assistance, allowed suspects to be held without charge up to 30 days and permitted authorities to seize or freeze the assets of suspended or fired civil servants or their family members in some cases.


It also mentioned minority groups, including Alevis, Christians, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) individuals, continued to face threats, discrimination and violence and reported that the government took insufficient steps to protect them. According to the report, the pro-government media used anti-LGBTI, anti-Armenian, anti-Alevi and anti-Semitic rhetoric in Turkey.


The report also emphasized that at least 140 journalists were arrested after July 15, 2016 mainly over their links to the Gülen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“The government used its authorities under the state of emergency to close more than 195 media outlets critical of the government as of mid-December. Authorities linked most to either the Gulen movement or PKK. The government issued arrest warrants for more than 200 journalists and blocked dozens of online news media sites,” the report stated.

“After the coup attempt, 29 Gulen-affiliated publishing companies were closed, and schools avoided the titles they published although the titles were not technically criminalized,” the US human rights report on Turkey also said.

Underlining that primary and higher education in Turkey was affected by government purges in the Ministry of National Education, the report noted that tens of thousands of teachers, academics and staff were dismissed.

“A decree issued on July 27 closed 15 universities affecting 64,533 students and 2,808 academics. As of December some sources estimated as many as 6,000 academics had been suspended or fired on allegations of terror links,” it said.

The report also referred to a government witch-hunt against the Gülen movement, stating that “the government targeted family members [of Gülen followers] to exert pressure on some wanted suspects.”

According to the report, the AKP government cancelled or refused to issue passports for the minor children of Gülen followers who fled a government witch-hunt that forced family separation.

Providing few specific examples of the massive government crackdown on the Gülen movement, US State Department report also referred to the cases of former Zaman columnist and Yarına Bakış editor-in-chief Bülent Korucu, whose wife has been under arrest since August, and famous soccer player Hakan Şükür, whose 75-year-old father Sermet Şükür was detained in August and released at the end of November.

To describe the degree of the purges in state institutions, the report mentioned a measure taken by the Ministry of National Education to rewrite 58 textbooks after the failed coup attempt in an effort to remove “subliminal messages” allegedly inserted by the Gülen movement into the books.

“Primary, secondary, high schools, and universities became increasingly cautious about the books they allowed students to read,” the report said.

“The Turkish Publishers Association (TPA) reported that publishers often exercised self-censorship, avoiding works with controversial content (including government criticism, erotic content, or pro-Kurdish content) that might draw legal action,” it noted.

According to the report, the government fired more than 3,000 members of the judiciary, which created an atmosphere of fear that further limited judicial independence and complicated or delayed court proceedings.

On the Kurdish issue, the report indicated that the Turkish security forces failed to take adequate actions and measures to protect civilians while combatting the PKK in southeastern provinces.

“Hundreds of thousands of residents of the Southeast were forced to flee their homes and most remained internally displaced at year’s end. Upwards of 200 civilians were killed in the fighting. Human rights groups reported that security forces killed and injured persons who attempted to cross illegally from Syria into Turkey and documented reports of torture and abuse of prisoners following the coup attempt,” the State Department report pointed.

In addition, the report stated that prisons in Turkey are overcrowded due to the influx of tens of thousands of new prisoners after the coup attempt.

It also mentioned minority groups, including Alevis, Christians, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) individuals, continued to face threats, discrimination and violence and reported that the government took insufficient steps to protect them.

The report also added that the worst forms of child labor, especially among the refugee population, persisted in the country.

According to the report, the pro-government media used anti-LGBTI, anti-Armenian, anti-Alevi and anti-Semitic rhetoric in Turkey.

Meanwhile, human rights groups criticized the low profile release of the country reports in Washington under the new US administration, which contrasted with long-standing State Department traditions.

Source: Turkey Purge , March 4, 2017


Related News

The Gulen Movement: A Paradigm for the Engagement of Faith and Modernity

In the midst of this time of crisis and opportunity, my question tonight is this: What is the future of religion in the new world order that is painfully emerging in our times?  How can religion support—and constructively critique—this new international order? I personally believe, very deeply, that God is raising up leaders in every […]

Turkey’s STV opens Washington studio, first among Turkish TV networks

One of Turkey’s leading TV networks, the Samanyolu Media Group is expanding its scope by opening a new bureau and a studio equipped with cutting-edge technology in Washington, D.C., amid unceasing government repression at home.

Toward an Islamic enlightenment

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has put forward an interpretation of Islam that advocates peace, democracy, secularism (in the sense of freedom of religion and conscience for all), science, education and a market economy, and who has supported interfaith dialogue and mutual understanding and respect for people of different ethnic and religious identities and lifestyles, has been the topic of much curiosity for native as well as foreign observers of Turkey.

State Islam versus civic Islam

Using the Hizmet movement, AK party wants to create a common enemy that would be recognized as such by different social groups. It demonizes the movement and makes it a target of the social opposition. But all these tricks and methods do not eliminate one basic truth. There is an unusual experience in Turkey. There is an ongoing war between “state Islam” and “civic Islam.”

Erdoğan says personally pursuing fight against ‘parallel structure’

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan acknowledged during a speech on Tuesday that he has personally been pursuing a “fight” against the so-called “parallel structure,” adding that his administration is ready to cooperate with district governors to “clear” its members from state bureaucracy.

Foes on the Run as Erdogan Makes Power Personal

Members of the Gulen religious movement insist they are innocent of plotting against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, but he has chased them into the shadows, and they fear for their lives and livelihoods. At the same time, Mr. Erdogan has increasingly made himself the face of Turkey’s state, and now he is seeking more authority to rule.

Latest News

Rhode Island’s latest refugees flee Turkey’s repressive regime

Turkey’s Gulen supporters flee to Greece – BBC World

Pro-gov’t journalist suggests killing family members of jailed Gülen followers

Le Monde: Ankara offered Senegalese government $7.5 million to transfer Yavuz Selim educational group to Maarif

In Greece, Turks tell of lives full of fear in Recep Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkish Police Wait To Detain Another Women Just Hours After Delivery

A battle for power in Turkey faces resistance in Senegal

Turkish family drowned in Aegean Sea while escaping from Erdogan regime

To escape from Turkey, they told their children it was a game

In Case You Missed It

GYV urges government to accelerate reforms in favor of media freedoms

Turkey Continues Its Witch Hunt Against Gülen Followers

KCK suspect Ersanlı says doesn’t believe Hizmet behind coup, terror trials

Spy agency planning false-flag terror acts in crowded areas, whistleblower claims

‘First, account for the shirt you are wearing’

Princeton professor accuses Gulen of orchestrating Turkish coup, Harvard professor disagrees

Criticism and risks

Erdoğan’s image in the West

AK Party VP Sahin: We can only be grateful to Hizmet people

Copyright 2017 Hizmet News