Turkey’s newly established Presidential Higher Advisory Board led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has voiced its determination to continue with an unprecedented crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement without making any compromises, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Following a three-hour meeting at Erdoğan’s presidential palace in Ankara on Tuesday, the board released a statement in which it emphasized the importance of the continuation of the fight against the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016.
Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government label the movement as a terrorist organization named “Fetö,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
In its statement the board said compromises would never be made in the “decisive fight against Fetö, which is the culprit of the heinous July 15 coup attempt.” The board also said attitudes and actions that are likely to weaken the fight against the movement would never be allowed.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.
The board, which was established by a presidential decree in May, comprises former AKP heavyweights who are no longer members of parliament such as Bülent Arınç, İsmail Kahraman, Mehmet Ali Şahin and Köksal Toptan.
In the meantime, Erdoğan at his party’s parliamentary group meeting earlier on Tuesday said he regrets recent remarks from Arınç, who described the post-coup government decrees as a “disaster.”
Arınç also apologized for the purge of the thousands of civil servants from their jobs.
“There are so many people around me who suffered this tragedy. I feel sorry for them, I have sympathy for them. I am actually apologizing to them. I feel so ashamed when I see the woman who comes to my house to clean because she was purged as the director [of a state agency]. A police officer whose spouse, a fellow police officer, was also purged,” he said.