On July 15, 2016 Turkey thwarted a vicious coup attempt thanks to the collaborated effort of Turkish government, opposition parties, citizens and media. Most independent analysts believe the coup was organized by a diverse coalition of disgruntled anti-Erdogan officers. Theories about the possibility of a ‘Reichtag Fire’ type set-up or beforehand knowledge of Turkish government are also abundant.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately and exclusively blamed the coup on his archrival political enemy Fethullah Gulen and his faith-based ‘Hizmet’ movement, which was earlier designated as a ‘terrorist organization’ despite its long time record against violence. Turkish government increased pressure on US to extradite Fethullah Gulen who has been living in Pennsylvania as a permanent legal resident since 1999.
As Erdogan said during the coup night, the military takeover attempt has proved to be a ‘a gift from God’ for his increasingly authoritarian government. Ankara declared state of emergency, suspended European Convention on Human Rights and issued government decrees leading to an unprecedented purge and crackdown on dissenters, first and foremost Hizmet movement.
Since July 15, nearly 43,000 were detained and 23,000 were arrested from all walks of life. More than 100,000 public servants including teachers and doctors have been purged based on alleged ties with Gulen’s civic movement. Among the dismissed are 3,465 judges and prosecutors, and nearly forty percent of Turkey’s generals and admirals.
131 independent media organizations were shut down by a single government decree. 84 journalists and media workers were sent to prison making Turkey the world leader with 117 total number of jailed journalists. Dozens more journalists are on the run due to arrest warrants.
Denying due process, Turkish government has seized more than 15 billion dollarworth property of independent media publishers and businessmen sympathized with Hizmet movement. 2,099 private-run schools, colleges and student hostels, 1,259 associations and foundations were shut down.
On the top of Hizmet crackdown, Turkish government ratcheted up pressure on Kurds. 11,285 teachers have been suspended for allegedly having ties with PKK terrorists. 28 mayors mostly in Kurdish areas have been replaced by government trustees.
The alleged inhumane practices of Turkish government include long pretrial detention periods, mistreatment, torture and suspicious deaths at detention centers, harassing and jailing family members of the suspects, denying legal representation and arresting lawyers, firing government employees with no right to appeal, confiscation of properties, cancelling passports of suspects and family members, hate speech, declaring ordinary citizens guilty merely by association to a dissident social group, openly calling for a witch hunt and establishing informant lines for this purpose.