Over half a million arrested in Turkey since mid-2016: Minister

Of those, almost 31,000 are imprisoned or remain detained pending trial, as authorities accuse them of responsibility for the 2016 coup.
author_image Rawa Barwari

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey arrested 511,000 people since a failed coup attempt to topple the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016, a top minister overseeing the country’s national police force revealed over the weekend.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, one of the most prominent hardliners in the Erdogan administration, told the state news agency that of those arrested in the past two and a half years, 30,821 are imprisoned or remain detained pending trial.

The figures above comprised of people accused of membership in the movement of the US-exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a group once allied with Erdogan but now designated as “terrorist” for allegedly mounting the botched coup.

On the night of July 15 to 16, over 250 civilians were killed by rebel soldiers and scores of military members were killed by civilians in turn who poured onto streets upon a call by Erdogan.

It did not include political prisoners or detainees of the pro-autonomy Kurdish movement or Turkish leftist groups.

Soylu took pride in “conducting package operations,” a phrase that Turkish officials use to describe waves of the massive crackdown which ensued from the violent political fallout between Gulenists and Erdogan.

He signaled further police operations as the country prepares for nationwide local elections later this month.

One such operation took place last month when security officers raided homes and addresses across 76 provinces to arrest 1,112 people.

Since the coup, Ankara dismissed over 150,000 state employees from their jobs, barred many from working elsewhere and canceled their passports.

Turkey has also extradited or illegally snatched away at least 100 Turkish dissidents from countries such as Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Gabon, or Malaysia.

Insistent and often angry demands by Ankara to hand over its opponents abroad have led to frictions with western governments, most notably the United States and Germany.

According to a report the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) released, there were over 50,000 political prisoners in Turkish jails.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany