The Turkish president made scandalous remarks in September 2016 when he said that “no country or region around the world will ever be a safe haven for FETÖ and its militants.” Erdoğan has persistently voiced threats against those who have been forced to leave the country due to persecution; at public rallies broadcast live and attended by tens of thousands of his die-hard fans he has vowed to hunt down Gülen movement participants and kill them. In a speech delivered at his palace on October 19, 2017, he said: “We will never leave alone those who fled abroad; we will chase them until they are punished like they deserve. Those who betrayed Turkey and the Turkish nation will not be comfortable for the rest of their lives whether in Turkey or abroad.” In another speech Erdoğan said: “They are the elements of dissension inside us, like cancer cells. A comprehensive cleanup is required so that not the slightest trace of it is left behind. And that’s what we are doing right now. … Those who fled abroad in the murky atmosphere of the coup d’état should never feel safe. … We are currently working on a new initiative. We are calling on those who went [abroad] to return. A deadline will be given to them. If they don’t return, we will do whatever is needed. Indeed, the children of this country should return and tell whatever they know to the relevant authorities. If they don’t, they’ll pay for it. At any rate, we won’t support them as our citizens. … We will take due action when they are apprehended.”
At a joint press conference with President Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo in Ankara on December 29, 2016, Erdoğan said: “Our crackdown on them both at home and abroad is under way and will continue in the future. Wherever they flee, we will be hot on the heels of the chiefs and militants of terrorist organizations.” Speaking at a rally in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak on April 4, 2017, Erdoğan said: “We are purging every Gülenist in the army, in the police and in state institutions. And we will continue cleansing [these organizations of] them because we will eradicate this cancer from the body of this country and the state. They will not enjoy the right to life. … Our fight against them will continue until the end. We won’t leave them merely wounded.”
These quotes are only a small part of what Erdoğan has long been voicing as part of his campaign of fear that vilifies opponents and critics. This has led to physical attacks on the lives and properties of critics abroad, calls for boycotts of their businesses, death threats and punishment of their relatives back in Turkey. He uses every opportunity to exert pressure on ambassadors and employs similar propaganda with the heads of state or government he meets
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