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Turkey may strip PKK supporters of citizenship, Erdogan says

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ©AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara "must" consider all options including revoking citizenship to prevent supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) from doing harm.

"To prevent them from doing harm we must take all measures, including stripping supporters of the terrorist organization of their citizenship," Erdogan said in reference to the PKK in a speech in the capital, Ankara, on Tuesday.

"These people don't deserve to be our citizens."

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Turkish president called on the legislature to "immediately" act to strip parliamentarians of their immunity to allow for prosecution. 

He has repeatedly accused the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the parliament's third-largest party, of being an extension of the PKK. The HDP categorically denies any affiliation to the militant group.

Erdogan also stated that there is “no difference” between academics and journalists, who he described as supporters of terror, and "the terrorists who throw bombs."

The Turkish government has been criticized for a growing crackdown on free speech. Several Turkish lawyers, journalists and academics have been arrested for denouncing the military's heavy-handed tactics in the Kurdish-dominated areas.

The PKK militants move to attack Turkish security forces in Nusaybin, Turkey, on February 25, 2016. ©AP

Erdogan's comments came one day after he pledged to continue operations against the PKK, saying there remains no room for peace talks with the militant group.

The PKK militants should either surrender or they will be “neutralized” by Turkish security forces, he added.

Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the PKK in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has been pounding the group’s positions in northern Iraq as well.

The anti-PKK operations began in the wake of a deadly July 2015 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accuse the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, prompting the Turkish military operations.

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