European rights court delivers verdict in Kurdish politicians’ case after 14 years

European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has delivered its verdict in the case of 10 politicians from the now-closed People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) 14 years after the case was brought before it.

According to the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), the court said Turkey had violated the plaintiffs’ right to freedom of assembly and association (Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and ordered the Turkish government to pay each of them €1,500 in non-pecuniary damages.

The 10 politicians were accused of violating the law on meetings and demonstrations for attempting to make a press statement about an alleged enforced disappearance case from 2001. After legal proceedings that lasted for six years, they were sentenced to one year, three months’ imprisonment. The case was taken to the ECtHR in 2007.

The plaintiffs included Siirt provincial HADEP chair Ahmet Konuk, district chair Abdurrahman Taşçı and eight other politicians.

Speaking to MA, their lawyer Reyhan Yalçındağ criticized the ECtHR, saying, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” She said not much had changed in Turkey in the 20 years since the incident in terms of how the Kurdish political movement is treated.

“After 20 years, instead of improvements, we see continuing violations of the convention’s articles regarding freedom of association and freedom expression,” Yalçındağ said. “Elected mayors are removed and replaced with caretakers, and lawmakers, mayors and party executives are arrested for exercising their rights protected by those articles.”

According to the Ministry of Interior, Ankara has ousted a total of 151 elected mayors from office on accusations of terrorism in the last six years, almost all from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing party with majority Kurdish support, replacing them with government-appointed bureaucrats. According to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, during the last two mayoral terms — 2014-2019 and 2019 onwards — 73 of the 151 mayors removed from office were sentenced to a total of 778 years in prison.

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