Istanbul: The Turkish government cracked down on alleged plotters of the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with 6,000 people being detained, including three of the country’s top generals and hundreds of soldiers. In addition, arrest warrants have been issued for several judges and prosecutors deemed to be government opponents.
The government has also dismissed nearly 3,000 judges and prosecutors from their posts. Officials claimed the conspirators were loyal to moderate US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has often accused of attempting to overthrow the government.
The wide reach of the government crackdown, meanwhile, has raised concerns over the future of democracy in Turkey, which has long prided itself on its democratic and secular traditions despite being in a tumultuous region swept by conflict and extremism. Erdogan’s survival has turned him into a “sort of a mythical figure” and could further erode democracy in Turkey, said the director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute.
“It will allow him (Erdogan) to crack down on liberty and freedom of association, assembly, expression and media in ways that we haven’t seen before and find strong public support within the country,” he said.
The suspects are being charged with “membership in 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.”
World leaders, including US President Barack Obama, have strongly condemned the attempted putsch but also urged Turkey to respect the “rule of law” in its aftermath especially after pictures emerged showing the rough treatment of some coup plotters when arrested.