Turkey Suspends 9,000 Police In Latest Purge

The Turkish government has suspended more than 9,000 police officers in the latest purge wave since abortive coup attempt last summer, bringing the total of dismissed public officials to nearly 150,000.

Hours after the Turkish authorities have arrested more than 1,000 people within police on Wednesday over alleged links to Gulen movement, the Turkish National Police Department released the decision for suspension of 9,103 police officers.

The authorities issued detention warrant for 3,224 police officers within the country’s battered police force. The wholesale purge has raised alarms among Turkey’s opposition.

What started as an initial step to clear Turkey’s security apparatus of putschist elements later morphed into a sweeping political campaign to eliminate government non-loyalists within bureaucracy in far-reaching emergency decrees.

The Turkish government defends the latest crackdown, saying that the arrested people had a connection with members of the national police who had links with Gulen movement. But it did not bother to offer any evidence as officials were simply fired with administrative decisions rather than due process and investigation.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu described the targeted people as “secret imams” who infiltrated Turkey’s police force.

“1,009 secret imams have been detained so far in 72 provinces, and the operation is ongoing,” the minister told reporters.

It was the largest operation in recent months. So far today, Turkey’s authorities have imprisoned 47,000 people, including judges, prosecutors, generals, police, teachers and various public officials. More than 145,000 public servants have been sacked in the largest purge in republican history.

The Turkish government accused U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating a coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last summer. Mr. Gulen and his supporters deny any link to the putsch.

The purge within police resembles a concerted effort by the government to build a more pliant law enforcement with unquestioned loyalty to the ruling party.

Just recently, on March 23, Interior Minister Soylu announced that 10,000 new personnel will be recruited for Turkey’s national police force which faces a shortage of experienced manpower in the face of the unabated purge.

Today’s firings is a testament to a systematic government policy of building a party-controlled police force, critics said in their initial reaction. It is particularly inconceivable for a government to dismiss all the experienced police chiefs at a time when Turkey is menaced by the steady rise of radical terrorism and threat posed by the Kurdish insurgency in the southeast.

A video from the central province of Yozgat last month also offered a glimpse about the ideological indoctrination of the new generation of police cadets. In an inauguration ceremony, police cadets display a blend of ultra-nationalist and Islamist discourse in their oath of allegiance to the police force.

It is an alarming sign to see the formation of a new police force driven by highly infused religious codes and impulses, an oath that contains elements of revenge and revenge. From perceived enemies of the motherland, religion, and the leadership.

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