Chief of Turkish National Police admits that 540,000 detentions have been made without legal ground

On the third anniversary of 2016’s coup attempt, Celal Uzunkaya who is general director of the Turkey’s General Directorate of Security (National Police) admits that 540,000 individuals have been detained on grounds of their alleged cohesion or connection with the Gulen Movement / Structure which is outlawed by the Turkish Government after the coup attempt.

In a special interviews with CNN Turk, Mr Uzunkaya said:

Since 15thJuly (2016), 540.000 proceedings have been carried out, in connection with FETO. Is it over? It is not. Was it (FETO) cleaned?, should you ask; it has certainly not been dealt with completely.

Across Turkey, initially, every week in average 1500 – 1700, even 2000 detentions were being made. Nowadays, (thanks to) more qualified (meritable) identifications, we carry out proceeding about around 500-600 people per week who have coherence or connection with FETO.

Until this statement, Turkish government claimed that the criterion which were expressed in the Emergency Decrees, namely ‘coherence, connection, affiliation, relation, link [with or to Gulen Movement / Structure]’ are applied only for administrative measures, not in criminal proceedings. So indeed, Turkey defended itself in the ECHR and the UN Human Rights Mechanism in this manner. For the first time, chief of the Turkish National Police admits ‘coherence or connection’ which are not crime and do not have any legal ground are applied to criminal proceedings as well.

Mr. Uzunkaya also admits that their identification is more qualified than those made after the coup attempt. He says initially, every week in average 1500 – 1700, even 2000 detentions were being made in connection with Gulen Structure, nowadays (with) more qualified (meritable) identifications, around 500-600 people individuals are being detained per week.

Turkish Laws only criminalize the membership of a terrorist organization (Article 314 of the Turkish Criminal Law, no. 5327). That is to say, ‘affiliation, relation, link, coherence, cohesion or connection’ with or to a terrorist organization are not crimes under Turkish Law.

540,000 detentions within three year period is unprecedented in Turkey’s history. According to the Article 7-e of the Roma Statute, the mass arbitrary detention is violation of fundamental rules of international law is a crime against humanity.


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According to the survey by the Arrested Lawyers Initiative carried out on the Turkish Justice Ministry’s statistics,

  • Turkey has indicted 221.366 people under Art. 314 Turkish Penal Code (membership to an armed terrorist organisation) between 2012 and 2017,
  • moreover, public prosecutors have indicted more than 300.000 individuals under 309-316 of Turkish Penal Code which stipulate crimes against the Constitutional Order in 2017 and 2018,
  • Statistics also indicate that, in 2017, Turkish prosecutors have opened investigations against 527.154 individuals under Articles 309-316, this number is 456.175 in 2018.

The Penal Code does not contain a definition of an armed organisation or an armed group. The lack of legal definitions and criteria of the armed terrorist organization and the crime of membership in the armed terrorist organization make them prone to arbitrary application.[2]Vague formulation of the criminal provisions on the security of the state and terrorism and their overly broad interpretation[3]by the Turkish judges and prosecutors make all lawyers and other human rights defenders a prospective victim of judicial harassment.

Categories: Unjust / Wrongful Convictions

3 replies


  1. Turkey: Chief of Turkish National Police admits that 540,000 detentions have been made without legal ground | IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers
  2. Persecution of Lawyers in Turkey | November 2019| Fifteen lawyers have been victimized – The Arrested Lawyers Initiative
  3. Turkey remains further away from the truth and the rule of law – HRS
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