24 PACE members urge Turkey to release jailed deputies immediately

Twenty-four members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) from 16 countries and 5 political groups has issued a written statement in the Council of Europe (CoE) and demanded the immediate release of arrested deputies including pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu on Friday.

The statement has stressed the need for the release of jailed deputies and demanded CoE member states to monitor the issue and launch an investigation. It has also mentioned that both the Venice Commission and the PACE Monitoring Commission, which has Turkey in the monitoring process, drew attention to the matter in their most recent report.

In addition to Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ, 8 deputies from the HDP and 1 deputy from CHP are also currently in jail on terrorism charges.

Meanwhile, a local Turkish court in Van province sentenced 8 people, who organized Nevruz, Kurdish New Year celebrations, to 20 months in prison for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation.”

Van’s Erciş District Criminal Court ruled that Cevdet Zilanlı, Şaban Tekin, Haydar Tekin, Kenan Ultar, Özgür Deniz, Erol Cengiz, Nefise Taylan and Elvan Çetin provoked people to chant slogans in favour of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan by playing Kurdish songs during Nevruz celebrations.

According to report by pro-Kurdish news outlets, the head of the organization committee Erol Cengiz was sentenced for his opening speech while the presenter Nefise Taylan was convicted for clapping to a song while the crowd was chanting “Long Live Leader Öcalan.” The charge against local musician Kenan Ultar was the same; provoking the people by singing Kurdish songs.

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