— Turkish authorities have expanded a crackdown on military officials to
include police, judges, governors and millions of civil servants in a
massive purge of opponents following a failed coup attempt.
The Interior Ministry’s move on Monday to suspend nearly 9,000 employees
raised the number of bureaucrats fired or detained to nearly 20,000.
Also Monday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim suspended annual leave for
more than 3 million civil servants. More than 7,500 people have been
A mutinous faction of Turkey’s military staged the attempted overthrow
Friday night, hijacking fighter jets and helicopters to strike key
installations and security forces.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters now say that they face
an unprecedented threat and that the campaign to root out traitors is
necessary to restore the rule of law. But the sheer scale of the purge
in the days since the thwarted coup has alarmed Turkey’s allies in the
West and raised fears that the NATO member is on a slide toward ever
more authoritarian rule.
Erdogan — who has ruled Turkey for 13 years, first as prime minister and
now as president — had already grown increasingly authoritarian in what
critics say is a quest to consolidate power. He has jailed journalists
and opponents, and even sidelined rivals within his own party.
His latest push was for Turkey to transform from a parliamentary to a
presidential system, a move that would place even more power in the
chief executive’s hands.
This, in particular, “is a dangerous moment for Turkey,” Pierini said of
the attempted coup’s aftermath. “There are quite a few disturbing things
Rights advocates warned on Monday that the swift roundup of so many
bureaucrats indicated that the arrests were based on little to no
evidence. Such a vast detention or expulsion of employees at key state
institutions may encourage rather than prevent more instability, critics
Some law enforcement officers working at police stations in the capital,
Ankara, spoke of the inhumane treatment of detainees in their custody.
Many of those held were not documented nor were their identifies
verified, the police officers said. They spoke on the condition of
anonymity for fear of reprisal from superiors.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said the government “has the complete
right to hold to account those involved in the coup.”
But “the speed and scale of the arrests, including of top judges,
suggests a purge rather than a process based on evidence,” Hugh
Williamson, the group’s Europe and Central Asia director, said in a
Indeed, Turkish authorities have yet to make public evidence linking the
thousands of people detained directly to the coup.
The government has accused supporters of Erdogan’s arch?rival, Muslim
preacher Fethullah Gulen, of orchestrating and carrying out the
attempted coup. Gulen lives in self-imposed exile in the United States,
but Erdogan loyalists have long accused Gulen’s followers of
infiltrating state institutions.
In an interview with CNN, Erdogan said he was with his family in the
coastal resort of Marmaris when the fast-moving events began on Friday.
Two of his bodyguards were killed in an operation against him, he said,
adding that “if I had stayed 10 or 15 additional minutes there, I would
have been killed or I would have been taken.”
Erodgan and Yildirim, the prime minister, both called on the United
States to extradite Gulen to Turkey. But in frank statements to the news
media, U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said explicitly that the
United States wants evidence, not allegations, of the involvement of
Gulen before authorities approve an extradition. Turkey’s government has
not completed a formal request to extradite the reclusive cleric.
Still, a senior Turkish official, speaking on the condition of
anonymity, said that there had been “an ongoing inquiry into the Gulen
movement’s penetration of law enforcement, the judiciary and the
“It looks at least as if something has been prepared” before ordering
the arrest of so many public officials, said Johannes Hahn, the European
Union commissioner responsible for handling Turkey’s membership bid.
“The lists are available,” Hahn said, according to the Reuters news
agency. “Which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain
Also speaking in Brussels, where the E.U. and NATO are based, Kerry said
that the Western military alliance would scrutinize Turkey in the coming
days to ensure that it adheres to the bloc’s criteria for democracy and
the rule of law.
The international community, including NATO Secretary General Jens
Stoltenberg, has made clear that it stands behind Turkey’s elected
But “the fact that an attempted coup has taken place has profoundly
shaken the confidence of many in Turkey,” said Bulent Aliriza, director
of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International
“Such speculation is harmful to the decades-long friendship between two
great nations,” Bass said. “We have been clear that the United States
would be willing to provide assistance to Turkish authorities conducting
their investigation into the coup attempt.”