Deceased Kurdish politician sentenced to 9 years on terrorism charges

A Turkish court has handed down a prison sentence of eight years, nine months to a Kurdish politician who died of cancer four years ago, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Fırat News Agency (ANF) reported.

The sentence was given to Ahmet Öner, a local politician from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), at the end of a trial in the southeastern province of Hakkari on Oct. 1. Öner died of stomach cancer at the age of 80 in June 2017. The court ignored Öner’s death when issuing its sentence on charges of terrorist organization membership.

Öner was standing trial along with 28 other Kurdish politicians at a high criminal court in Hakkari for their alleged links to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).

The other defendants were also given jail sentences of various lengths.

The KCK is known as an umbrella organization that encompasses the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), frequently accuse the HDP, the second-largest opposition group in parliament, of ties to the PKK. The party denies the claims.

Erdoğan’s systematic campaign to restrict the rights of the HDP over the past few years, which includes a closure case against the party and the detention of more than 5,000 HDP lawmakers, executives and party members on politically motivated charges, has prompted international condemnation.

A bipartisan group of 10 US senators on September 30 urged President Joe Biden in a letter to “forcefully condemn” Erdoğan’s escalating efforts to disband the HDP, underlining that putting the pro-Kurdish party on trial on politically motivated charges marked the culmination of Erdoğan’s efforts to “disenfranchise Turkey’s Kurdish population, undercut political pluralism in the country, and tighten his grip on power through anti-democratic means.”

Calling on Biden to uphold the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in relations with Turkey, the senators also stated that he should, in concert with their EU partners, ensure that Erdoğan understands that any attempt to disband the HDP or detain or bar its members from office will result in negative consequences for Turkey.

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