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Turkey: Proposal to annul citizenship threatens fundamental rights

In recent months, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused academics, journalists, and lawyers critical of his policies of supporting terrorism and called for the legal definition of terrorism to be widened.

This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 6 April 2016.

In response to statements by Turkey's Minister of Justice that the government would seek to allow authorities to strip “terrorist sympathizers” of citizenship, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“This is a chilling escalation that should put the international community on notice that Turkish democracy is at a breaking point,” said Mark P. Lagon, Freedom House's president. “Turkey already suffers from overly broad and overly vague definitions of terrorism and terror propaganda that have left thousands of people subject to arbitrary justice. Stripping citizenship from people in a state where authorities routinely ignore the rule of law will lead to more violence.”

Background:

In a speech on April 5, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey should counter supporters of terrorism by stripping them of Turkish citizenship. Erdoğan in recent months has accused academics, journalists, and lawyers critical of his policies of supporting terrorism and called for the legal definition of terrorism to be widened.

Turkey is militarily fighting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which the United States designates as a terrorist organization. Historically, the Turkish state has not distinguished either legally or politically between speech it considers in favor of the PKK or other terrorist organizations and actual membership in a terrorist organization. The Turkish government has also designated the Gülen movement as a terror organization.

Turkey is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2015.

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