Hundreds of Turks who fled the country after the military takeover five months ago to avoid prosecution for political crimes face the threat of loss of citizenship. The martial law authority issued an ultimatum today to another 45 that their citizenship would be revoked if they did not return by March 17 "to give an account of their bloody deeds and murders."
Similar warnings have been issued since the military apparently decided last month to crack down on the growing expatriate community of dissidents in Europe.
Those threatened with loss of citizenship include Behice Boran, chairman of the banned Marxist Turkish Workers' Party, actress Melike Demirag, pop singer Cem Karaca and 35 left-wing union leaders.
Today's list embraced alleged terrorists of the left and right, including Mehmet Ali Agoa, a rightist who escaped prison after he was sentenced to death for murdering newpaper editor Abdi Ipekci two years ago when Turkey seemed to be sliding toward civil war.
Since the military seized power in Sptember, promising to reestablish law and order, more than 100 accused terrorists have been killed and 20,000 imprisoned. The country seems more peaceful than for several years before the coup, when dozens were killed every month.The authorities maintain there has been a 90 percent drop in terrorist crimes.
Most of the fugitive Turks are in West Germany, where there is a Turkish community of about 1 million workers and their families.
None of those sought has returned and none is likely to, since they face prison or in some cases execution if convicted. The ultimatum to the 45 bore the tone of a bitter farewell rather than an invitation to come back.
It accused them of "committing bloody murders," "running away to escape the claws of justice," and "continuing with their destructive and separatist activities against the motherland in foreign countries."
The military's stance against the expatriates may bring Turkey into sharper conflict with human rights groups in the West.
It also may weaken Turkey's position in the Council of Europe, where there is a vocal minority group demanding that Turkey be expelled.
The military's policy was probably shaped by its desire to muffle the growing voices of dissent emanating from Turkish dissidents in the West.