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Kurds become new target of Ankara’s post-coup purges

Ankara’s draconian crackdown on the Gulen community is now moving into a new direction, targeting Kurds accused of collaborating with armed Kurdish militants.
Riot police detain a demonstrator during a protest against the suspension of teachers from classrooms over alleged links with Kurdish militants, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar - RTX2OUAT
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While Ankara’s post-putsch crackdown on Gulenists is increasingly called into question — most recently by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself — the purges are now expanding to Kurdish quarters accused of backing the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a designated terrorist group. Days after some 11,000 teachers were suspended with a single decree last week, the government ousted two dozen elected Kurdish mayors, raising the specter also of company seizures and property confiscations. Such measures may have largely subdued the Gulenists, now labeled by Ankara the Fethullah Gulen Terror Organization (FETO), but can they produce the same results against the PKK and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which Ankara sees as the PKK’s political extension? Is the government fanning tensions at a time when bloodshed in the Kurdish-majority southeast is already a daily occurrence?

When it comes to the rule of law, Turkey’s record has never been spotless, but the measures employed since the July 15 coup attempt have sparked an alarm that compares to no other period in the past.

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