ISTANBUL – In a new tactic against suspected coup plotters, Turkey on Saturday announced it had seized more than 2,250 social, educational or health care institutions and facilities that it claims pose a threat to national security.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also sharply criticized Western countries that expressed concern about possible human rights violations in the sweeping purges the government has carried out after the July 15 failed military coup that have left at least 10,000 people in jail and another 60,000 tossed out of their jobs.
Erdogan told France 24 in an interview broadcast Saturday that Turkey has no choice but to impose stringent security measures in the wake of the attempted coup that killed about 290 people and was put down by loyalist forces and protesters.
“We are duty-bound to take these measures. Our Western friends fail to see it that way. I cannot understand why,” Erdogan said. “I’m under the impression that they will only see that once all the political leaders of Turkey are killed, and then they’ll start to dance for joy.”
Turkey has imposed a three-month state of emergency and detained or dismissed tens of thousands of people in the military, the judiciary, the education system and other institutions. Turkish leaders allege that supporters of a U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, infiltrated state agencies and groomed loyalists in a vast network of private schools as part of an elaborate, long-term plan to take over the country.
Gulen, a critic and former ally of Erdogan, has denied any knowledge of the attempted coup.
Some European governments say they are concerned that Turkey’s large-scale purges could jeopardize basic freedoms. Turkish officials have said they will respect the rule of law, though some commentators wonder whether the purges are targeting opponents of Erdogan who had nothing to do with the coup, thereby strengthening his power.
The Turkish treasury and a state agency that regulates foundations have taken over more than 1,200 foundations and associations, about 1,000 private educational institutions and student dormitories, 35 health care institutions, 19 labour groups and 15 universities, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported Saturday.
Those institutions “belong to, have ties with or are in communication with” the Gulen movement, according to a decree published Saturday in Turkey’s official gazette.
Turkey has criticized the United States for not immediately handing over the cleric for prosecution, though President Barack Obama said there is a legal process for extradition and encouraged Turkey to present evidence.
Judges, military personnel, prosecutors and other civil servants who have been dismissed will lose any gun and pilot licenses, and will have to vacate any publicly funded residences where they live within 15 days, according to the decree. Those dismissed cannot work in the public sector and cannot work for private security firms.
The decree also extended the period that suspects can be detained without charges up to 30 days. All detainees’ communications with their lawyers can be monitored upon order of the public prosecutor’s office.