In Turkey / Türkiye

By Turkish Minute, Feb 21, 2017

A court in eastern Turkey has handed down a prison sentence of five months to jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş on charges of insulting the Turkish nation, republic and state institutions.

[In a seperate development, the speaker of the Turkish Parliament has stripped HDP co-leader Figen Yuksekdag of her seat in Parliament. See: Turkish Parliament strips jailed HDP Co-chair Yüksekdag of parliamentary membership, Turkish Minute, Feb 21, 2017.]

The prison sentence was given to Demirtaş by the Doğubeyazıt 2nd Penal Court of First Instance in the eastern province of Ağrı on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear on which occasion Demirtaş committed the insult crime.

Figen Yüksekdag (L) and Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairpersons of People’s Democratic Party of Turkey (HDP)

Demirtaş was arrested in a police operation on Nov.4 along with eight other HDP deputies including the other HDP co-chair, Figen Yüksekdağ.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges. There are currently 12 HDP deputies behind bars.

The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.


Selahattin Demirtaş, co-leader of People’s Democratic Party in Turkey, given five-month jail sentence

Agence France presse, (AFP), Tuesday, Feb 21, 2017

ANKARA: A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered the co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas to serve five months in jail, in the latest legal blow to the politician.

Demirtas has been held in jail since November on charges of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and making terror propaganda on their behalf. If found guilty in that case, he risks up to 142 years in jail.

In a separate case, a court in the eastern city of Dogubayazit convicted Demirtas of denigrating the Turkish state and its institutions and sentenced him to five months in jail, state media said. Demirtas is currently being held at a prison in Edirne, in northwest Turkey, far from the southeastern heartland of the Kurdish movement.

In a separate development, Turkish authorities on Tuesday stripped the other co-leader of the HDP, Figen Yuksekdag, who is also held in jail, of her parliamentary seat. The move was based on a 2013 conviction for “terror propaganda” which was validated by the top court of appeals in 2016.

According to the Anadolu news agency, the validated conviction was read out by the deputy speaker in the plenary session, which is enough for an MP to lose their seat. The move means that the number of HDP MPs in the Turkish parliament has now fallen to 58, Anadolu said.

Demirtas and Yuksekdag are among a dozen HDP MPs being held in prison ahead of trial on charges of links with the PKK after being detained last year. The European Union has expressed anger over their detention, calling on Turkey to abide by its obligations under the rule of law.

The detentions came after Turkey defeated a failed July 15 coup aimed at bringing down President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and blamed on U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen. But critics complain the crackdown goes well beyond the alleged coup plotters and accuse the authorities of using a state of emergency to muzzle all opposition.

HDP MP Ahmet Yildirim said that the decision over Yuksekdag “violated the Turkish constitution”, asking why the move did not come immediately after the verdict was approved by the appeals court five months ago.

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