15:09 GMT18 September 2020
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    One hundred and thirty Turkish citizens, including exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen and two pro-Kurdish parliamentarians who fled the country, have been given 90 days to return to the country and face prosecution, or else suffer a revocation of their citizenship.

    The Turkish Interior Ministry announced that the "fugitives" were accused of crimes ranging from armed rebellion against the government to membership in terrorist organizations. They will stand trial in absentia for the charges, unless they surrender themselves to Turkish authorities.

    This is the latest in a long series of efforts from Ankara to retrieve Gulen. A former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Gulen fled the country in 2013 following a falling-out between the two men. He now lives in exile in Pennsylvania.

    After the failed coup in July 2016, where members of the Turkish military attempted to wrest power away from Erdogan, who they accused of dictatorial and inhumane activities, Erdogan's government labeled Gulen as the coup's organizer.

    The government began a crackdown against alleged coup participators, sympathizers, and Gulenists, with 50,000 people arrested (including many soldiers and judges) and 150,000 fired from their jobs (primarily educators and police officers. Pro-government groups have called the crackdown a necessary purge to preserve stability, while Erdogan's critics have called the coup a pretext to remove his opponents from the police, legal system, military, and civil service.

    The Kurdish lawmakers included on the list, Faysal Sariyildiz and Tugba Hezer Ozturk, are with the left-wing Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a nominally national party that is popular with Turkey's Kurdish minority due to their calls for a new constitution that enshrines minority rights. A former HDP parliamentarian, Ozdal Ucer, has also been ordered to return to face trial.

    The HDP has been accused in the past of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist movement that NATO, the EU and Turkey consider to be a terrorist group. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which Erdogan heads, claims that the HDP represents PKK interests in Ankara while the PKK scaremongers votes for the HDP in Kurdish-majority areas. The HDP denies all connections.

    Since the defeated coup attempt, at least 11 HDP lawmakers and 10,000 party members have been detained, according to HDP spokesman Osman Baydemir. This includes the party's two leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

    Sariyildiz and Ozturk fled the country two months before the coup, after the parliament passed a law revoking MPs' immunity from prosecution. They are both believed to be hiding somewhere in Europe.

    Sariyildiz has been critical of the Turkish government on Twitter, including posting a photo of security forces arresting an elderly woman which he described as  "barbarization, banditry and the peak point of lowness." Ozturk has retweeted critical articles. 

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    Tags:
    coup attempt, crackdown, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Justice and Development Party (AKP), Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Selahattin Demirtas, Osman Baydemir, Fethullah Gülen, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ankara, Turkey
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