Turkey has formally charged 99 generals and admirals following Last Friday’s failed coup, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attempted to stamp his authority on a shaken country with a high-profile meeting of loyal commanders and his cabinet in Ankara yesterday.
Despite growing international alarm, the Erdogan government was expanding its purge of alleged coup backers with the announcement that around 6,500 employees of Turkey’s education ministry had been suspended.
The news came a day after the same ministry suspended 15,200 personnel and also revoked the licenses of 21,000 teachers working in private institutions across Turkey.
The state-run Anadolu news agency said that teachers are believed to have ties to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government has accused of being behind the failed military coup last week. Mr Gulen has strongly denied the accusations.
Public servants dismissed
Besides tens of thousands of public servants being dismissed, Amnesty International says the crackdown has extended to the media, including those critical of the government.
It said authorities had blocked access to more than 20 news websites, cancelled press cards for 34 journalists, and issued an arrest warrant for one journalist for her coverage of the coup. In addition, 25 media organisation are being shut down.
Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher, Andrew Gardner, said: “We are witnessing a crackdown of exceptional proportions in Turkey at the moment. Turkey’s people are still reeling from the shocking events of the weekend and it is vital that press freedom and the unhindered circulation of information are protected, rather than stifled.”
Calls for death penalty
The speed and size of the clampdown, along with calls to reinstate the death penalty for the plotters, is causing alarm among Western allies which are insisting that Ankara must uphold the rule of law in the country, a Nato member and European Union candidate state that is Washington’s most powerful Muslim ally.
It is unlikely, analysts say, that such calls will be heeded. The failed coup shook the leadership to the core and came close to eliminating Mr Erdogan and other top figures.
On Turkey’s streets, emboldened Islamist followers of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) have paraded in a show of support, fueling fears of retribution against those seen as pro-Gulenist or other opponents. Some public figures critical of Erdogan are keeping a low profile. A Western diplomat in Ankara said the public mood and mobilization of “Islamist mobs” was worrying, as was what appeared to be the mass screening of civil servants.