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

Volunteer teachers saddened by efforts to close Turkish schools

Volunteers teachers, most of whom left behind a better life in Turkey with the hope of promoting universal values of peace, dialogue and peaceful coexistence with others through education at Turkish schools abroad, have voiced great disappointment over efforts by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to defame and eventually see these schools close.

Turkey harshly criticized by panel in US over press freedom

The government’s recent crackdown on the media was severely criticized during a panel discussion at the National Press Club (NPC) in Washington, D.C.

Reactions snowball after PM likens Hizmet members to Hashishin

According to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Özcan Yeniçeri “The Hashishin was a separatist organization that inflicted great damage on the Turkish nation. Their purpose was to divide the nation and disrupt peace. The Hizmet movement, on the other hand, is a civilian initiative that strives for Turkey not to be divided and for youths not to fall into the hands of the terrorist PKK. For us, the real Hashishin are the separatists. If the prime minister is looking for a Hashishin, he should look into the mirror,”

GYV slams government attempt to silence critics with recent measures

The Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) expresses that the interim Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government is continuing to use terror cases in an attempt to silence critical press.

Even a village cannot be ruled this way

A simple question: by what standards is Turkey being ruled now? Constitution? Laws? Unfortunately, neither. We have a rule based on arbitrariness and bullying. How about democratic criteria? They were long shelved. Legal criteria?

Turkish family detained in Qatar as Erdogan steps up crackdown on Gulenists abroad

Qatari police detained five members of a Turkish family who are linked to the faith-based Gülen movement while the family was on their way to South Africa, the yenihamle.com news website reported on Monday.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Burc Schools achieve 13 medals in AMC 8

Gülen extends condolences to Egypt victims

Statement on Journalists Arrests

Kimse Yok Mu’s Eid al-Adha aid efforts worldwide

2-month-old denied breast milk for 17 days while under detention with mother

“Turkey, with the great assistance of Fethullah Gülen‎ has been a model”

Dialogue and distrust: on the predicament of Gulen-inspired organisations in the UK

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News