The initial purge after the failed coup in Turkey resulted in the detention of thousands from the police force and the military. Expanding the purge, Turkey has by now suspended, detained or placed under investigation more than 60,000 soldiers, judges, teachers, journalists and others. The attempted coup on 15th-16th July was staged by a faction within the military.
Turkey on Wednesday deepened a crackdown on suspected followers of a U.S. based Muslim cleric ‘Fethullah Gulen,’ who it blames for the failed coup, dismissing nearly 1,700 military personnel and shutting 131 media outlets; moves that may spark more concern among its Western allies.
On Wednesday, the military dishonorably discharged 1,684 of its personnel, a Turkish government official said, citing their role in the failed coup. Of those, 149 were generals and admirals which represents roughly 40 percent of all Generals and Admirals in Turkey’s military. Broadcaster CNN Turk has reported that more than 15,000 people, including around 10,000 soldiers had been detained so far over the coup, citing the interior minister. Of those, more than 8,000 were formally arrested and pending trial. In addition, the government said in its official gazette that three news agencies, 16 television channels, 45 newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers have been ordered shut down.
Further, the Turkish Government ordered the detention of 47 journalists and reporters from nation’s reputed news agencies, news channels and media. Among the journalists detained are columnists and staff of now defunct Zaman newspaper, the Gulen movement’s flagship media organization. They had also been raided earlier this year.
The state-run news channels suffered massive destruction during the live telecast on 15th July, at the same time when Ankara, capital of Turkey and Istanbul were under siege with the coup attempt in progress. The violence invoked adverse reaction, and President Erdogan’s government had received massive support and backing from the masses at that time.
The large scale arrests of journalists post the coup attempt are being viewed by many as an attempt to muzzle the freedom of speech. Critics have been warning that the state of emergency imposed after the July 15 coup attempt poses grave threat to freedom of expression. The Turkish government however insists that it is investigating the journalists for possible criminal conduct only.
Former prominent Turkish commentator and politician Nazli Ilicak is among the arrested. The actions have invited severe criticism and even rage against President Erdogan’s government.
“We fear there will be a witch hunt which would include journalists known as ‘critical’ against the government. Because they are putting all journalists into one bag,” said Ahmet Abakay, president of the Progressive Journalists’ Association, a media group based in the Turkish capital Ankara. He said the situation was “very dangerous for every journalist” and that government warnings to reporters to be careful would lead to self-censorship.
President Erdogan is being blamed by some for the violence two weeks ago. When President Erdogan accused Fetullah Gulen, the reclusive cleric, Gülen rejected all accusations that he was behind the coup attempt. Instead he said, I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdoğan. He added that, “There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations [against Gülen and his followers].
Social media is now being accused for blaming Erdogan of planning the entire game of uprising by members of military simply to empower himself and secure his position. After severe actions against the media President Erdogan appears set to act against the social media.
The government has arrested seven fugitive soldiers, raiding a hotel in the resort town of Marmaris shortly after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left it on the night of July 15th. The soldiers are accused for plotting President Erdogan’s murder. They reportedly had hoarded armaments in the basement to attack President Erdogan, but their plot failed. The armaments and weapons were discovered after two days of investigations.
The human rights agency Amnesty International claims the detainees are being subjected to inhuman treatment; they are being beaten and tortured. They are being denied food, water and medical treatment, and subjected to verbal abuse and threats. The organization has published photographs to support its allegations against the Turkish Government for this inhuman treatment.