Turkey’s purge continues

Not to compare Turkish President Recep Erdogan to Hitler, but he’s proceeding in remarkably similar ways: using the coup to arrest his opponents—not just the military, but judges as well—to call for reinstatement of the death penalty, and in general to take every chance to become a full-blown autocrat. Although I’m not convinced the coup was orchestrated by Erdogan himself, as some historians say the Reichstag fire was, it’s not beyond belief.

But speculation aside, the purge continues, and, along Hitlerian lines, Erdogan is now getting rid of academics. As the BBC reports, 15,000 “education staff” have been suspended, accused of complicity with the U.S. Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who of course was blamed for the coup.

So the toll mounts:

Turkey’s High Education board has also ordered the resignation of over 1,500 university deans, state media reported.

. . . Thousands of soldiers, police and officials have been detained or sacked since Friday’s coup attempt.

More than two dozen generals, including former air force chief Gen Akin Ozturk, have been remanded in custody pending the setting of trial dates. Gen Ozturk denies any involvement.

Meanwhile, the UN urged Turkey to uphold the rule of law and defend human rights in its response to the attempted coup.

In a statement, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the mass suspension or removal of judges was “cause for serious alarm”. He expressed “deep regret” at suggestions the death penalty could be reinstated.

What’s next? Here’s my prediction which is mine: persecution of non-Muslims, who make up about 2% of Turkey’s population, will begin in earnest.


h/t: Stephen Q. Muth


  1. Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    A chap called Ashish Kumar Jena from India (whom I know nothing of) is publishing a running total of the purges on twitter.

    I count roughly 46,000 suspended, sacked, resigned, dismissed, detained or investigated. Categories are: Education ministry, Interior ministry, Police, Soldiers, Judges, University Deans, Finance Ministry, Gendarme Soldiers, Religious Affairs, TRT broadcaster, PM Office Staff, Generals and Admirals, District Governors and Provincial Governors.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Even if somehow that was off by two orders of magnitude, that’s still astonishing.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Two of the numbers have already been widely circulated and Mr. Jena repeats them, i.e. 15,200 Education Ministry suspended and 2,745 judges sacked. So in those at least he is reliable.

    • FiveGreenLeafs
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Guardian appears to have updated its information,

      35000 public servants now affected, including 15000 employees at the education ministry, who, according to the Guardian, were sacked, and 21000 privately employed teachers who have had their licenses revoked (Swedish media and the BBC).

      8800 police officers sacked

      6000 soldiers arrested

      2700 judges and prosecutors arrested

      +100 generals arrested

      20 news websites critical of the government have also been blocked

      According to information that needs verification (in regard to total numbers), the Turkey’s Board of Higher Education requested the resignations of all 1,577 university deans. That includes 1,176 who worked in public universities and 401 in private institutions.

      That would mean (if I understand correctly) that the totality of Turkeys higher education has been stripped of its leadership.


      • Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        update: 50,000+ detained, sacked or suspended, including (now) journalists.


        • Posted July 20, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          Mahir Zeynalov, who describes himself thus on twitter, ‘Turkish analyst & journalist. Writing for HuffPost & Al Arabiya. Past: LA Times, TZ. Space & cats are my passion’, writes,’One Turkish prosecutor, who was suspended this week in connection to the coup, died 2 months ago — an indication of a pre-planned purge.’

          If he is to be believed,and he has counted the numbers of suspended etc., then I agree with him. Erdogan had a list before the attempted coup.

          • Posted July 20, 2016 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

            I’d agree with that point in any event. Like another commenter here (I forget) has remarked, no self-respecting political leader would NOT have a list. (and the operatives in place all over the country adding to it & maintaining it).

            Because of this point, I retract a statement I made on a previous article that such a list was necessarily indicative of the list maker planning the coup. It just looks like it. (and is consistent with it)

          • Posted July 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            I am so tempted to rewrite your last line! “Erdogan had a list before he had a coup”, to imply the coup was his, too.

            • Posted July 21, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

              Nephew who lives in Istanbul fb’ed this 10 minutes ago: ‘There are so many out tonight; flag waving, cheering, hanging out the sides of cars and off the back of trucks, and especially shouting religious slogans while in arm-linked circles-and they are mostly youth. WTF’

              It looks like Erdogan has mass support for the purge.

              • Posted July 23, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

                How the hell did Erdogan figure out the way to master control of adolescents’ hormones like that? We’re talking still-developing brains, under heavy hormonal influence, here! Oh, those poor kids. One day, they will wake up and realize — or worse, not wake up and/or not accept responsibility.

  2. Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Good prediction. What seems to be happening already, is that Turkish women (mostly Muslim) are stashing hijabs in their purses & glove boxes, in the increasingly likely event they are harassed by bearded fanatics. (the type of which were strongly evident in the street uprisings)

    Death Valley days, straight ahead.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        My nephew’s Turkish wife who lives in Istanbul posted this morning of this sinister incident: translation by facebook, hence the goobledygook style, but you get the drift.

        ‘Just got a call from number I don’t know they were looking for the açtım:Kuran class,” My brother, sister hafiz guys are raising our children for the sake of Allah. For the future, they said, ” help, if i agree to help a teacher to my house, they’re sending me a book (the Quran) – they’re a gift. I’m shocked that the people of 1., how do they know my phone?? 2. Si why today? 3. th what possessed me to want my address?? I can’t believe something like this for the first time it’s happened to me out of here, because I’m reporting you, after all to get a phone call like this, you really gotta count for something.. not:ayrıca I wonder if i like it, it’s a thing??’

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Truly frightening. And to think, I just had a brother and his wife out in Istanbul a couple weeks ago. (hey had an amazingly good time)

          • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

            Yeah, I’ve only been there once and I chuffin’ loved it. South coast snorkelling, never been to Istanbul. Now I’ll probably never see the Hagia Sophia, which is being turned into a mosque again. Bad times.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          [Sound Effect: The Shark theme from ‘Jaws’] They are circulating, occasionally coming out of the distant gloom to flash their teeth.
          I love swimming in tropical waters. But that theme still buzzes my ears.
          The sharks are gathering in Turkey. Whether they win is another question.
          One thing we can take from this is that a couple of decades is insufficient to build a robust democracy. Not nice news, but calibration points are valuable.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      A non-mainstream opinion piece by a former NSA analyst, who contends that it is worthwhile to keep the question open re: government involvement in the coup attempt, despite how “fanciful” it may sound to Western ears.

  3. Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “Here’s my prediction which is mine: persecution of non-Muslims, who make up about 2% of Turkey’s population, will begin in earnest.”

    To wit, that would be yet another public health crisis, as 2% (79,463,663 * 0.02) represents roughly 1,589,273 people.

  4. jay
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    This will not end well. Not for Turkey, not for Europe, not for the ME.

    The whole house of cards that was enabling the EU to save face by pushing the migrant issue under the rug is about to collapse. The military actions against ISIS are in jeopardy, indeed the long standing alliances of Turkey with both EU and US may well collapse

    A genocide of Kurds is possible, which puts the US directly on a collision course with Turkey, at the same time we (and NATO) have a LOT of military hardware there.

    Will Obama stand firm on Gulen? Will Turkey align with Russia… or Iran?

    sheesh this is bad

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      I suspect you are right on moat counts.
      Erdogan seems to have given up on attempts to become a “European” nation. No real surprise there.

      • Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:37 am | Permalink

        If he restores the death penalty, he is telling the EU to forget about Turkey. Does he really think he can be a lone wolf, or he is getting backing from the US or Israel?

        • Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

          Considering how, six years ago, Erdogan’s Turkey was responsible for sending off the Mavi Marmara terrorist flotilla to Gaza, under the guise of humanitarian aid, which Israel intercepted and for which Israel received worldwide condemnation despite video evidence of the truth, I doubt Israel would support Erdogan.

          There used to be good relations between Israel and Turkey before Erdogan. Turkey was a popular place for Israeli tourists, including young adults starting world travel after the military years they were required to put in, coming out of high school or college. That faded, as Erdogan’s true intentions started to come through.

          Just a month or so ago, shortly before the failed Turkish coup, Netanyahu was explaining to Israelis and the world why he made apology to Turkey/Erdogan in order to re-establish economic relations. It didn’t go over well.

          It does say something for Netanyahu, though. Any who think he’s too proud to bend, even for the betterment of Israel, are wrong. Turkey deserved no apology, and Erdogan wouldn’t settle for anything less.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted July 20, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

          Either would be a type of poison, just affecting different groups in different ways (with some overlap).

    • somer
      Posted July 21, 2016 at 5:34 am | Permalink

      I really really can’t see Turkey aligning with Russia. Sunni Pakistan and Central Asian republics much more likely. Centuries ago the Turks had designs on Russia. In the last 150 years or more its been more like the other way around.

  5. Petrushka
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I would not be surprised by a Cambodia style purge. I’ve followed this at Reddit for about a yer now, and all I can say is they asked for it, at least the majority did.

    And the minority kept apologizing for Erdogan, right up to the night of the coup.

  6. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I predict the persecution of those considered not-real-Muslims will begin in earnest.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      I suspect you are right on moat counts.
      Erdogan seems to have given up on attempts to become a “European” nation. No real surprise there.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Oops: I should have read your comment before posting mine. We think the same on this.

  7. Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    This is where the EU and NATO need to draw a line. No autocrats welcome or unsanctioned. No religious persecution, likewise.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      FYI note the issues the former Yugoslav countries have encountered. The EU has always required democracy, human rights etc as a precondition to membership.
      Turkey had been making efforts over the last several decades to meet those requirements. They’re back to the 1980s now. At best, if “best” includes EU membership, which was always an open question in Turkey.

  8. Eric Grobler
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    “Meanwhile, the UN urged Turkey to uphold the rule of law and defend human rights in its response to the attempted coup”

    That is the same body where Saudi Arabia chairs the human rights council!

  9. Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    there are exceptions to Godwin’s Law.. sometimes there are comparables, eh

  10. Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I bet Muslims whom Erdogan considers not-Muslim-enough will be the primary targets of his henchmen, while those who are Muslim-enough will feel empowered and take that out on anyone who suddenly is substantially lower on the new food chain, i.e., non-Muslims.

  11. Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    They are out of their mind. I just read this:

    Any country that stands by the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen will not be a friend of Turkey and will be considered at war with the NATO member, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday.

    The government said that followers of Gulen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States for years, were behind the attempted coup by a faction of the military on Friday.

    The government accuses Gulen of trying to build a “parallel structure” within the judiciary, education system, media and military as a way to overthrow the state, a charge the cleric denies.


    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget, Erdogan confirmed his batshitositude a couple of months back when he got Merkel to stand by as some German comedian got done for criticizing a foreign leader: resurrecting some superannuated German law dating back to the Holy Roman Empire or something aimed at protecting Clovis from hate speech.

      Douglas Murray initiated a limerick competition to ridicule the ridiculous, humourless one. Guess who won? Step up, Boris Johnson, Britain’s greatest diplomat and now, shamefully, Foreign Secretary. BoJo’s effort was rubbish. Murray freely admitted it, but no journo could resist the scoop of the Brexit dupe.

      • Cindy
        Posted July 20, 2016 at 4:35 am | Permalink

        Douglas Murray has some good insights regarding Islam.

  12. Claudia Baker
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    As someday it may happen that a victim must be found
    I’ve got a little list – I’ve got a little list
    Of society offenders who might well be underground
    And who never will be missed – who never will be missed!

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      It’s a topsy-turvy world, Claudia!

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        That it is Dermot. And getting topsier everyday! Going outside now to look at the full moon. And water some plants. Peacefulness in the midst of craziness.

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

          I always thought that the bio-pic ‘Topsy-Turvy’ should have been a biography of Kevin’s sister. But yeah, il faut cultiver notre jardin. And stop the cats staring at that big, fat moon.

  13. philfinn7
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    This is close to home for some of us. My wife is Turkish, and I lived in Istanbul for 4 years. She visits family about 3 or 4 times a year, and I go there annually. This won’t stop our visits, but it will definitely change my attitude to the place. I have loved Turkey, and almost all of the people I have met there. Many of our friends and colleagues are in the university sector. Many are quite outspoken and I fear for their safety. I weep.

    • Posted July 20, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      I share your thoughts on Turkey and sympathize with your problem. Good luck!

      • Posted July 20, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        I wonder what we in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere can do to help Turkish academics, scientists and the like, and their families, to escape and resettle?

        • Posted July 20, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

          I am no longer an academic, but looking at what to do to help people flee might be a good idea in general. I’m going to have to see what our Foreign Affairs (or whatever they are called now) ministry says .. (To figure out how Sisyphean the task is, if only …)

  14. Posted July 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Operation Hummingbird?


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