A crackdown on the military and the judiciary in the wake of a failed coup attempt has led to the detention of thousands of soldiers and judges and prosecutors, including commanders and top court members.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag on July 17 said around 6,000 suspects, including at least 2,839 soldiers and thousands of judiciary members, have been detained as part of a wide-scale operation launched following the deadly coup attempt initiated by a group of soldiers late on July 15. “There are currently around 6,000 detentions. It will surpass 6,000. The legal process on these will continue,” said Bozdag.
Suspects are being charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “attempting to overthrow the government of the Turkish Republic using force and violence or attempting to completely or partially hinder its function.” The terrorist organization is allegedly led by the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, a friend turned foe of the Turkish government.
Timeline of failed coup in Turkey, Hurriyet Daily News, July 16, 2016
News as of July 18, 2016:
* Turkey says 103 generals, admirals detained after Turkey’s failed coup attempt, Hurriyet Daily News, July 18, 2016
* Interior Ministry suspends 8,500 police officials and dozens of provincial and district governors, Hurriyet Daily News, July 18, 2016
The arrest warrants target two members of the Constitutional Court, Alparslan Altan and Erdal Tercan, 48 members of the Council of State, and 140 members of the Supreme Court of Appeals.
The detention of 2,745 judicial and administrative judges and prosecutors was ordered after they were suspended from duty by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) early on June 16.
Many commanders have also been detained and some of them were later arrested. Among the most significant names detained was the chief military assistant to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Col. Ali Yazici; the commander of the 2nd Army, Gen. Adem Huduti; the executive officer and Malatya Garrison Commander Avni Angun; and the commander of the 3rd Army, Gen. Erdal Öztürk.
Air Forces Commander Akin Öztürk was also detained on suspicion of masterminding the coup attempt, according to multiple reports. In addition, Adana Incirlik 10th Adana Tanker Base Commander Gen. Bekir Ercan was among those detained. The jets that hit Ankara were reportedly supported by Turkish tanker aircraft based at the Incirlik Air Base, which is also being used by the U.S.-led coalition in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Police also detained eight Air Force generals suspected of being appointed to the top “coup command posts” if the failed attempt had succeeded, at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport late on July 16.
In the Aegean province of Izmir, Aegean Army Deputy Commander Brig. Mamduh Hakbilken and Foça Marine Amphibious Force Brigadier Commander Commodore Halil Ibrahim Yildiz were among those detained.
Meanwhile, operations in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces also took place, with Brig. Arif Seddar Afsar in Bitlis, Brig. Yunus Kotaman in Bingöl, Brig. Abdülkerim Ünlü in Tunceli, Brig. Ahmet Simsek in Siirt, and Maj. Gen. Halil Ibrahim Ergin in Hakkari all being detained.
On July 17, meanwhile, an operation was carried out on the Istanbul Gendarmerie Commandership, with police searching Istanbul Provincial Gendarmerie Commander Staff Col. Gürcan Sercan’s office.
Several other provincial gendarmerie commanders were also detained as part of the operations throughout Turkey. Eight generals, namely Brig. Irfan Can, Maj. Gen. Imdat Bahri Biber, Maj. Gen. Fethi Alpay, Maj. Gen. Haluk Sahar, Maj. Gen. Mehmet Özlü, Brig. Ahmet Biçer, Maj. Gen. Saban Umut and Maj. Gen. Serdar Gülbas were detained.
Meanwhile, the general assembly of the HSYK decided to end the membership of five of its judges who were facing detention demands from the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, while it also cut short the vacations of some other judges and prosecutors. The Bakirköy Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul ordered the detention, in line with the HSYK’s demand, of some 140 judges and prosecutors on duty at the Bakirköy, Küçükçekmece and district administrative courts early on July 17.
A bloody coup attempt by a large number of soldiers, including high-ranking generals was quashed by the security forces on July 16 as hundreds of thousands of civilians hit the streets across the country against the rebel soldiers in a night that put a black mark on Turkish democracy. Four top commanders and the Chief of General Gen. Staff Hulusi Akar were saved after they held hostage by the Gülenist [sic] coup attempters.
The air force’s command, the gendarmerie command and some units from the armored forces took part in the coup attempt, he said, adding that it was quashed.
As coup attempters lost almost all key governmental, military and private buildings they occupied as of July 16, Turkey’s top soldier Gen. Hulusi Akar, who was taken hostage by the coup attempters at the General Staff headquarters in Ankara with other leading commanders, was freed at the Akincilar Air Base through an operation. However, six of a group of around 5,000 civilians, who tried to enter the base in a reaction to the coup, were killed by the rebel soldiers. Akincilar was apparently was the base that plotters used as one of their centers to command.
Turkish security forces have completed an operation against the coup plotters at the headquarters of the military general staff, broadcaster CNN Turk reported on July 16.
Erdogan’s hotel bombed
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also a target of the coup attempters as a number of helicopters bombed a hotel where he was accommodating in the Aegean resort town of Marmaris, less than two hours after the president left the place to come to Istanbul and address a large public meeting at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport. Police and soldiers clashed at the hotel and at least one police officer was killed there.
A Turkish F-16 jet controlled by coup-attempters also dropped bombs on a spot near the Presidential Palace in Ankara early on July 16, leaving five people dead, according to broadcaster CNNTürk.
Erdogan told the broadcaster in a phone interview that a “minority group” in the military has attempted a coup.
President calls on citizens to streets
Erdogan said the parallel state, referring to the followers of the U.S.-based scholar Fethullah Gülen, has promoted the attempt. “We will not leave the ground to them,” he said, vowing to end the “occupation” by the group, called on nation to unite at squares and airports.
He repeated his call when he arrived at the Istanbul Airport, which was also initially held by plotter tanks before being liberated.
“Turkish Airlines began its operations. There is a small distress in Ankara,” Erdogan told a large crowd gathered at the airport. “There is no leaving here until this situation goes back to normal. I will not leave, too,” he said.
Imams at all mosques across Istanbul called for prayers late at night – which is not a regular prayer – and also called on locals to hit the streets to defend its nation.
PM: Situation largely controlled
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in the early hours of July 16 that there were a group of rebels that took control of some helicopters and aircraft and struck randomly over Ankara and Istanbul as the country is underway a military coup attempt since the late hours of July 15. He told CNN Türk that there were “rebel units” in air bases in Ankara and Balikesir and they were “conducting random air strikes and making great damage” in Ankara and Istanbul.
He said that he had given orders to the commander of air defense to “do what is necessary” regarding the Helicopters and jets. Yildirim added that there was an attack on the Turkish parliament but the situation there was under control and parliamentarians from all four parties were in the parliament.
“I thank the leaders of the opposition parties. They have protected the democracy. They have stood with our government by showing a clear stance against the coup attempt,” he said.
The situation is largely under control after Turkey coup attempt by a group of soldiers, Yildirim said.
The government appointed 1st Army Commander Gen. Dündar early July 16 during the absence of Gen. Akar.
The unrest started when a group of soldiers closed the two bridges over the Bosphorus Strait that links Asia to Europe late on July 15.
Coup-attempting soldiers who fired artillery on civilians and police water cannon from a tanker on the Bosphorus Bridge surrendered early on July 16. A total of 50 soldiers surrendered, CNNTürk reported.
Two civilians, advertisement sector businessman Erol Olçak and his son were killed in fire at the Bosphorus Bridge. Three civilians were wounded in the artillery shooting.
16 killed, 250 detained at gendarmerie headquarter
Turkey’s police chief Celalettin Lekesiz has announced that 16 rebel soldiers were killed at the Gendarmerie General Command, which was taken back from the coup attempters. “They were trying to command and control the gendarmerie forces across 81 provinces across Turkey,” said Lekesiz.
The operation there was still ongoing at the headquarters in Bestepe, where the presidential palace is also located, but it was about to finish, he said. “16 of them are killed and nearly 250 of them are detained,” he added.
The plotters killed 17 policemen in an attack on the Gölbasi Special Forces Department headquarters in the Turkish capital of Ankara, according to the Istanbul governor. Two employees were killed at the Turkish satellite operator TÜRKSTAT in the same district.
The state-run broadcaster, TRT, which was taken over by the coup plotters, was retaken by the security forces.
The plotters, who named themselves the “Peace in the Country Council,” had forced a TRT speaker to read a declaration, claiming to take the power in the country.
Other media companies also saw attacks and raids.
Yenisafak announced that its photographer Mustafa Canbaz was shot dead in the head.
A group of soldiers entered the Dogan Media Center in Istanbul early on July 16. The building hosts hosts Hürriyet newspaper, Hürriyet Daily News online, broadcaster CNN Türk and other Dogan media companies. They took several journalists and other staff in the building hostage for some time. The soldiers were later detained.
Bombs hit parliament, PM’s office
The coup attempters bombed the Turkish parliament while lawmakers were holding a session. The lawmakers then moved to the shelter of the building. The office of the prime minister was heavily damged.
State-run Anadolu Agency said warplanes and helicopters fired twice on the Ankara police center.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the attempters will not succeed. “Over our dead bodies,” he said, thanking all political parties and broadcasters for supporting democracy. He called on soldiers not to obey the coup attempters, adding that this was not ordered by the chief generals.
Turkey’s First Army Commander Dündar said he contacted the Istanbul governor from the first minute of the uprising. Turkish Navy Chief Bülent Bostanoglu said “As the commander staff, we openly reject this attempt. General Staff Special Forces commander Gen. Zekai Aksakalli said “the bandits will not succeed”.
A group of civilians attempted to enter the state-run TRT during the occupation by the attempters, but the group inside fired at the group, wounding one person. A military helicopter was shooting at the TRT building.
The so-called Peace in the Country Council said in the live declaration that it would place on trial at “fair courts” all those “have betrayed the country.”
The so-called council also declared a curfew. However, Defense Minister Fikri Isik said this was a “pirate statement,” saying that it was not linked to the military commanders.
Broadcaster NTV said a Turkish F-16 fighter jet downed a helicopter operated by the coup plotters.
A CNN Türk reporter said a helicopter fired on the General Staff headquarters in Ankara.
The Istanbul head of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) said to broadcaster CNN Türk on the phone that a group of soldiers was trying to take them out of the building.
Fethullah Gülen, meanwhile, denied being behind the attempted coup in Turkey, saying that he condemned it “in the strongest terms.”
“As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations,” Gülen said in a brief statement just before midnight on July 15.
Turkey’s political parties in solidarity after coup attempt, Hurriyet Daily News, July 16, 2016
Parliament’s general assembly held an extraordinary session on the afternoon of July 16 and the four political parties represented at Turkey’s legislative body issued a joint declaration condemning the failed military coup attempt and underscoring solidarity against threats to the democracy…
Turkey-U.S. ties face another test over Gülen after coup attempt
By Serkan Demirtas, Hurriyet Daily News, July 16, 2016 (full article)
ANKARA – The foiled coup attempt which shook Turkey for less than a day over the weekend will likely introduce yet another source of tension between Ankara and Washington, as the former named U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen as the mastermind of the mutiny, with calls to its key ally for his extradition.
As usual, it was President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who appeared as the most outspoken in making the call to the U.S., in a statement on July 16. “I am calling on the U.S. and Mr. President [Barack Obama]. Hand over that person [Gülen] in Pennsylvania after this coup attempt,” Erdogan said, while addressing a crowd in front of his residence in Istanbul. “If we are strategic and model partners, please meet this demand of your partner,” he added.
Gülen has been living in Pennsylvania since 1999 after some of his televised remarks sparked court cases against him on charges of promoting the formation of an Islamic state based on sharia. Although he was away, the Gülenist organization and his media lent enormous support to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the first two Erdogan governments, until a massive corruption and fraud operation against top government officials was launched by members of the judiciary and police loyal to Gülen. The AKP government described the Gülenist organization and its members within the state as a terror organization and began a process for Gülen’s extradition from the U.S.
“I do not see any country that would stand behind this man, this leader of the terrorist gang, especially after last night. A country that would stand behind this man is no friend to Turkey. It would even be a hostile act against Turkey,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters on July 16.
Both Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced in the early hours of the coup attempt that the U.S. supported Turkey’s democratically-elected government, making clear they were standing with the Turkish government.
The two countries had already been in a long dispute over the role of Syrian Kurds in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with Turkey criticizing its main ally for cooperating with an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria. Tension between the two parties has often been reflected through public statements from Turkish leaders, particularly Erdogan.
Soylu: U.S. behind coup attempt
The critical tone in Ankara against the U.S. reached another dimension on late July 16, as Labor Minister Süleyman Soylu openly accused Washington of being behind the coup attempt. “America is behind the coup. Some magazines published there were involved [in staging the coup] for the last couple of months,” Soylu told private broadcaster Habertürk, without specifying what publications they were.
Apart from being a member of the government, Soylu is also known as a close associate of Erdogan.
A phone conversation between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu and Kerry also took place, most likely after Soylu made his statement, as Kerry raised the issue during the talk.
According to State Department spokesperson John Kirby, Kerry made clear the U.S. would be willing to provide assistance to Turkish authorities conducting the investigation “but that public insinuations or claims about any role by the United States in the failed coup attempt are utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations.”
Çavusoglu, on the other hand, updated Kerry on the latest developments and repeated the Turkish request for Gülen’s extradition from the U.S.
Earlier on July 16, Kerry, speaking to reporters during a visit to Luxembourg, said they had not received any request with respect to Gülen. “We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr. Gülen. And obviously we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments about it appropriately.”
“I’m confident there will be some discussion about that,” Kerry added.
Bozdag: Request will be updated
The Justice Ministry has long been working on a dossier on Gülen to send to the U.S. and there were reports last week that it was fully prepared and ready to be dispatched to Washington through diplomatic channels.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, however, stressed on July 17 that the dossier would be updated with the coup attempt organized by the Gülenist group before being sent to Washington for his extradition. “I am not of the opinion that the U.S. will continue to harbor a person who acts against Turkey any longer after this point,” Bozdag said. “That would cause huge harm to its credibility.”
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