Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a public speech on Wednesday that if people affiliated with Turkey’s Gülen group are released from prison after completing their prison terms, the Turkish public will “punish them in the streets.”
The speech drew strong reactions from international human rights advocacy groups as the president openly called for “genocide” by declaring “the entire group as the enemy” and justified its destruction.
Erdoğan said in his speech:
“If they [Gülenists] are released after completing their prison sentences, every time they see them in the streets, my people will punish them. They will spit in their faces. And they [Gülenists] are going to drown in my people’s spittle.”
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen group.
The group strongly denies any involvement.
According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.
“There are currently 221,607 inmates in prisons. Prison capacity is 203,000, making them 9 percent over capacity,” said Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Basri Bağcı informed Parliament last month, saying that some inmates have to sleep in shifts.