Turkish exiles face losing citizenship

Turkish exiles face losing citizenship

Turkey’s interior ministry announced that 130 Turks would lose their citizenship if they did not return to their homeland within 90 days.

The list includes cleric Fethullah Gulen (pictured), in exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and two parliamentarians from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), Faysal Sariyildiz and Tugba Hezer.

The HDP’s co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have also been jailed, handicapping its campaign against the April referendum where Turks narrowly voted for constitutional changes to grant Erdogan extended powers.

Turkey claims the US-based cleric plotted the botched July 15 coup last year that left more than 300 people dead. Around 50,000 people have subsequently been jailed and more than 120,000 purged from jobs in the civil services, education and the armed forces.

A state of emergency has been imposed since the failed coup, allowing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to rule by decree. Human rights groups and the EU have criticised the sweeping purges and detentions, saying Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent and jail opponents.

Turkey accused the pro-Kurdish HDP of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and US. The party denies any links to the PKK.

Turkey has jailed at least 11 HDP MPs along with thousands of party members. The two parliamentarians wanted by Turkey are believed to be in exile in Europe.

Meanwhile, Germany says it plans to move its military aircraft and personnel out of Turkey’s Incirlik airbase, as Ankara has refused to allow visits by German MPs.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the operation would move to Jordan’s Azraq airbase.

She said Jordan had agreed to host the German detachment and there would be a suspension of reconnaissance missions for a few weeks.

German Tornado fly reconnaissance missions over Iraq and Syria from Incirlik, helping forces fighting Isis but German-Turkish talks broke down in Ankara this week.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said 250 German troops after his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu had told him visits to the base by German parliamentarians could not take place.

Germany also flies a tanker plane from Incirlik to refuel fighters attacking so-called Islamic State.

Berlin is expected to formally approve the transfer later this month.

 Fethullah Gulen. Picture credit: Flickr

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