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Erdoğan vows to pursue Gülen movement followers who ‘escaped the sword’

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Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said he would not end his campaign against the movement, saying those who have not yet been apprehended will be caught sooner or later, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“[Gülen movement members] are paying with life imprisonment and aggravated life imprisonment. They will all pay. Of course, there are still some who escaped the sword [kılıç artığı]. They will also be caught sooner or later,” Erdoğan said during a Justice And Development Party (AKP) congress in Gaziantep province.

“Kılıç artığı” is a Turkish term that refers to enemies who somehow escaped execution by the sword during the Ottoman and early Republican eras, mainly used in reference to non-Muslims such as Armenians and people belonging to the Alevi sect of Islam in Turkey.

“Our state and nation have ‘broken the pen’ [an old reference to a judge ruling for the death penalty] and eliminated members of this vile organization [Gülen movement],” Erdoğan added.

Erdoğan said there would be no turning back from the campaign against the movement.

The Turkish president in December called on people to not show mercy to the movement, saying, “The pitiful will be pitied.”

Pro-government Yeni Şafak daily columnist Hikmet Genç, a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, said in December that followers of the Gülen movement would soon not be able walk freely in the US, threatening them by saying, “Don’t rest at easy at night.”

“We will destroy them all here in our time, God willing. They will be buried like dogs among crosses [Christians] in places like Pennsylvania. They will not be able to find an imam to recite [the final prayer at their funeral]. They will be buried in the land of infidels. There is no place even for their coffins here. I won’t accept it. Their coffins should be burned. I have no respect [for their dead],” he said.

In December another pro-Erdoğan columnist, Cem Küçük, along with journalist Fuat Uğur said Turkish intelligence should kill family members of jailed Gülen followers in order to turn the inmates into operatives for the Erdoğan regime.

He also talked about excuses about probable deaths of Gülen followers such as traffic accidents, suicides, mass suicides, death from excessive alcohol use, death from overdose, jumping off a bridge due to debt and health problems.

Erdoğan and his government launched an all-out war against the Gülen movement following corruption operations of December 2013 in which the inner circle of the ruling AKP government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan were implicated.

Erdoğan also accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Despite the movement strongly denying involvement in the failed coup, Erdoğan launched a witch-hunt targeting the movement following the failed coup.

A total of 62,895 people were detained in 2017 as part of investigations into the movement, according to Interior Ministry reports.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Jan. 5 said 48,305 people were jailed in 2017 alone over Gülen movement links.

Soylu said on Dec. 12 that 55,665 people have been jailed and 234,419 passports have been revoked as part of investigations into the movement since the failed coup.

On Nov. 16 Soylu had said eight holdings and 1,020 companies were seized as part of operations against the movement.

The Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 15, 2016 through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency declared after the coup attempt.

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