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Erdogan proposes stripping PKK supporters of Turkish citizenship

In the latest step in Turkey's crackdown on the PKK, President Erdogan has floated the idea of revoking Kurdish supporters' Turkish citizenship. Erdogan said Turkey has "nothing to discuss with terrorists."

Members and supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) do not deserve to maintain Turkish citizenship, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

"To prevent them from doing harm we must take all measures, including stripping supporters of the terrorist organization of their citizenship," Erdogan said in a speech to lawyers in Ankara on Tuesday. "These people don't deserve to be our citizens. We are not obliged to carry anyone engaged in the betrayal of their state and their people."

Without rejecting the idea, Turkish Prime Minster Ahmet Davutoglu said the government was not currently planning to strip PKK backers of their citizenship.

"This idea is not ready," Davutoglu told reporters.

The country's justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, however, said on Wednesday that work would start on a new rule as proposed by the president, Reuters news agency reported.

Nothing to discuss

Erdogan added that the state "has nothing to discuss with terrorists. That business is over." He also reiterated accusations he leveled in March at academics, journalists and aid workers of supporting terrorism.

"Supporters [of terror] who pose as academics, spies who identify themselves as journalists, an activist disguised as a politician ... are no different from the terrorists who throw bombs," Erdogan said.

Watch video 04:51

Turkey: Defiant journalists

Two journalists

at the opposition daily "Cumhuriyet" face life in prison for revealing state secrets concerning alleged Turkish weapon supplies to rebels in Syria, and a court-appointed panel of trustees took control of "Zaman," another opposition newspaper, in March. Prosecutors in January launched investigations against more than 1,200 academics who denounced the military campaign against Kurdish rebels.

Erdogan also called for stripping pro-Kurdish lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity so they could be charged with "terrorist propaganda." He has accused members of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) of being an extension of the PKK. HDP members replied that their party is opposed to violence.

Ongoing fighting

A Turkish Cobra attack helicopter

Decades of fighting between Turkey and PKK-linked militias has left tens of thousands dead

Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist organization. Fighting between the Kurdish militia and Turkey has picked up since July when the PKK scrapped a two-year ceasefire in its fight for greater autonomy and rights for Kurds. The conflict has claimed more than 40,000 lives since 1984.

Two attacks conducted by Kurdish rebels in Ankara killed dozens last month, leading to an offensive to root rebels out of

urban areas

. The move comes in addition to a long-running

military campaign in southeastern Turkey

.

sms/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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