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Turkey seizes over 2,250 schools, foundations, hospitals

ISTANBUL – In a new tactic against suspected coup plotters, Turkey on Saturday announced it had seized more than 2,250 social, educational or health care institutions and facilities that it claims pose a threat to national security.

The health ministry said patients at hospitals that are being seized will be transferred to state hospitals, highlighting the sweeping impact of the government’s crackdown after a failed July 15 coup attempt.

A top Turkish official also accused some European countries of downplaying the grave danger posed by the failed insurrection, an apparent response to Western concerns about possible human rights violations in the government’s crackdown.

“Some European colleagues think this is a Pokemon game, this coup attempt,” said Omer Celik, Turkey’s minister for EU affairs. “Come here and see how serious this is. This is not something we play in a virtual game. This is happening in real time in Turkey.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also sharply criticized concerns that the large-scale purges, which have left at least 10,000 people in jail and about 50,000 fired or suspended, could jeopardize basic freedoms. Erdogan told France 24 on Saturday that Turkey has no choice but to impose stringent security measures, after the attempted coup that killed about 290 people and was put down by loyalist forces and protesters.

“We are duty-bound to take these measures. Our Western friends fail to see it that way. I cannot understand why,” Erdogan said. “I’m under the impression that they will only see that once all the political leaders of Turkey are killed, and then they’ll start to dance for joy.”

Turkey has imposed a three-month state of emergency and detained or dismissed tens of thousands of people in the military, the judiciary, the education system and other institutions. Turkish leaders allege that supporters of a U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, infiltrated state agencies and groomed loyalists in a vast network of private schools as part of an elaborate, long-term plan to take over the country.

Gulen, a critic and former ally of Erdogan, has denied any knowledge of the attempted coup.

The Turkish treasury and a state agency that regulates foundations have taken over more than 1,200 foundations and associations, about 1,000 private educational institutions and student dormitories, 35 health care institutions, 19 labor groups and 15 universities, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported Saturday.

Those institutions “belong to, have ties with or are in communication with” the Gulen movement, according to a decree published Saturday in Turkey’s official gazette.


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