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Turkey significantly restricts activities of NGOs and rights organizations

[JURIST] Turkey significantly halted the activities of 370 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) [Reuters report] including human rights and children's groups to investigate the groups' alleged terror connections. The groups affected include bar associations and bodies representing lawyers who have stated their intention to challenge any unlawful restrictions on law firms. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus defended the restrictions operating across the country, which is primarily the government's response to the failed coup in July. Kurtulmus stated: "There is strong evidence that they are linked to terrorist organization ... Turkey has to fight terrorism on so many different fronts. We are trying to clear the state institutions from Gulenists. At the same time we are fighting against Kurdish militants and Islamic State." According to the Interior Ministry, of the 370 associations, 153 were allegedly linked to the Gulen movement, 190 to the Kurdish militant group PKK, 19 to the far-leftist militant group DHKP-C, and eight to Islamic State (IS).

The aftermath of the failed coup attempt continues as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan [BBC profile] vowed [JURIST report] that those involved in the coup would "pay a heavy price." On Thursday the president of the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, Theodor Meron [official websites], demanded [JURIST report] the release of Turkish judge Aydin Sefa Akay in an address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. Last week the Turkish Government arrested [JURIST report] eight pro-Kurdish political party members, including the party's two leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag and an additional nine party members. In September Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that approximately 32,000 people have been arrested [JURIST report] in relation to the recent coup attempt and 70,000 have been questioned. In late October Turkey's government dismissed 10,000 additional civil servants [JURIST report] and closed 15 more media outlets for their supposed connection with US-based religious leader Fethullah Gulen [official website], whom Turkey has accused of orchestrating the attempted coup in July. Then earlier this week, officials in Turkey detained [JURIST report] and searched the homes of 13 reporters alleging that, during the failed coup attempt in Turkey, they published stories seeking to "legitimize" those participating in the coup.

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