Turks in US demand Gulen extradition to Turkey
|Sunday July 17, 2016||PRINT THIS PAGE||SEND TO YOUR FRIEND|
Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania - Turks in the U.S. on Saturday gathered in Pennsylvania to protest a coup attempt Turley led by an expatriate cleric living in self-imposed exile in the state.
Approximately 100 Turkish nationals from neighboring states converged on Fetullah Gulen's Saylorsburg residence.
Some came from as far away as Washington DC to demand Gulen’s extradition to Turkey where he is wanted for charges related to multiple attempts to forcibly remove the elected Turkish government.
The latest attempt took place late Friday when a clique within the army tried to mount a military coup -- raising anxiety from what many Turks had hoped was a by-gone era of periodic coups by the country's historically powerful military.
Approximately 160 people were killed by coup plotters who blocked bridges and airports, attempted a media blackout and went as far as to bomb the Grand Assembly, key buildings and shell Turks and law enforcement officials.
"Obama, make him go!" and "The nation is here, where are the traitors?" the crowd in Pennsylvania chanted while calling through a megaphone to passing vehicles, "Your neighbor is a terrorist."
Nejit Zafer Saydam who traveled from Connecticut to join the protest told Anadolu Agency that he wants Gulen to face charges in Turkey.
“What we want is this guy to be turned over by the U.S. government to the Turkish government so that he can go back and stand trial for what he did to Turkey,” he said.
Musa Kalsavlan came from the neighboring state of New Jersey to Gulen’s massive complex and echoed Saydam, adding that the reclusive cleric is “killing Turkish people, he’s killing Muslim people.”
Hasan Guclu, a protest organizer from Delaware, said not even the demonstration would be enough to shame Gulen into returning to his home country to face charges, but the protest was nonetheless significant for raising awareness.
"There needs to come about an agreement between the U.S. government and the Turkish government on this," Guclu said in reference to Ankara's extradition demands. "It is simply not enough to say we are allies and not act upon it.
"They [U.S. officials] are always talking about strategic alliance" with Turkey, Hasan said. "As far as I can see, there must be a strategic situation that prevents them from giving him back."
Guclu is hopeful the situation could change following the coup attempt.
"Turkey should play all its cards to get him back," he said.
Gulen's followers have opened numerous schools in the U.S. and he is believed to hold financial assets worth billions of dollars.
Protesters also voiced support for the reinstatements of capital punishment t in Turkey.
The death penalty was abolished in 2004 but for at least a decade before that Turkey did not execute any of prisoners.
Gulen's neighbors, Penny and Lester, who did not give their last names, say they are surprised the U.S. government is not helping Turkey in its extradition bid.
"Why aren't they sending him back?" Lester, 74, rhetorically asked when he learned of the accusations of Gulen plotting and orchestrating a coup attempt.
Some 2,839 military personnel involved in the coup attempt have been arrested and 20 pro-coup soldiers, including senior officers, were killed during their campaign to overthrow the government.
The government said the coup bid was organized by followers of Gulen, who is accused of pursuing a long-running asymmetric campaign against the government through supporters within the Turkish state, particularly the military, police and judiciary.