In Turkey / Türkiye

By Ari Khalidi, Kurdistan 24, April 11, 2017

A supporter holds a portrait of Figen Yuksekdag, detained co-leader of Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), during meeting at Turkish parliament in Ankara on Nov 8, 2016 (Reuters)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region of Iraq – A Turkish court in Istanbul on April 11 sentenced the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Figen Yuksekdag to one year in prison for disseminating “terrorist” propaganda.

Kurdistan24 Bureau in Istanbul reports that a prosecutor based terror-related accusations against Yuksekdag on one of her speeches in February 2015, the 16th anniversary of the capture of the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Yuksekdag is currently already serving a ten-month sentence in prison in the Turkish province of Kocaeli. Police arrested her alongside the HDP’s other co-chair, Selahattin Demirtas, and a dozen of the party’s lawmakers in November 2016.

Selahattin Demirtas (R) and Figen Yuksekdag, co-leaders of the People’s Democratic Party-HDP

Turkey’s leaders including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuse the HDP of being the political wing of the outlawed PKK. The HDP is the third largest party in the Turkish Parliament.

In February 2017, the Turkish Parliament stripped Yuksekdag of her lawmaker status. She was elected in the Kurdish province of Van.

Yuksekdag’s latest punishment is the continuation of an ongoing government crackdown on the legal Kurdish opposition, which chose to challenge Erdogan’s ambitions for a stronger presidency.

As Turkey goes to the polls on Sunday, April 16 on whether to grant executive powers to President Erdogan, the HDP’s co-leaders and 11 members of Parliament remain in prison.

In February, Selhattin Demirtas was sentenced to five months of imprisonment for “insulting the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, and its institutions.”

Relentless waves of arrests and continued detentions have also paralyzed HDP’s sister party, the Democratic Regions Party (DBP). The DBP has nearly 2,500 members in prisons, 83 of them mayors of Kurdish municipalities the Interior Ministry had seized. DBP Co-chair Sebahat Tuncel was arrested late last year.

In March, a court in Diyarbakir sentenced the party’s other leader Kamuran Yuksek to eight years and nine months of imprisonment for allegedly being a member of a “terrorist organization.” He is in exile in Europe.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, authorities issued an arrest warrant for HDP lawmaker Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir as part of an ongoing investigation into an urban PKK affiliate the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK).

Related news:
Kamuran Yuksek, charismatic Kurdish leader in Turkey, convicted in absentia to eight years in prison, by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, March 28, 2017


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