The Turkish government immediately designated Fethullah Gülen as responsible for the failed coup. The Islamist preacher, with whom Erdogan entered into conflict in 2013, was in exile in America. Erdogan launched a manhunt for Gulenists, a large movement of people who adhere to Gulen’s ideology. Tens of thousands of people associated with the movement, including judges and teachers, were arrested.
Human rights groups and other critics of Erdogan’s government say this has led to a period of repression. Especially after the introduction of the presidential system, a year after the attempted coup, democracy in Turkey declined. Erdogan is gaining more power than ever. Not only were Gulenists being hunted down, but other critics had hard times, such as left-wing activists, Kurdish journalists and politicians.
Five years later, people are still arrested on suspicion of links to the Gülen movement. But there is also still a lot of anonymous information about what happened that night from July 15-16, 2016. The independent investigation that the opposition is still calling for has yet to come.
It left room for all kinds of speculation. According to some, the plans for the coup were already known to the government in advance, while others claim that it was completely orchestrated. Criticism was also leveled at the international community, which many Turks see as not taking the situation seriously enough.
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