HDP deputy İdris Baluken, who was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 in the framework of an investigation opened by a prosecutor in Bingöl province, was released after his first hearing in Diyarbakır court on Monday. While following the trial of fellow deputy Baluken, HDP deputy Nadir Yıldırım has been taken into custody in Diyarbakır court. Yıldırım has been released later.
Turkish government has arrested 11 pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies, including the party’s co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, 1,473 members of HDP and pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) and also has seized the administration of 63 municipalities since failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. After releasing Baluken, the number of HDP deputies in prison has reduced to ten.
Prosecutor Office had demanded life imprisonment and another prison sentence for 15 years for Baluken. However, 8th Heavy Penal Court in Diyarbakır has decided to release Baluken after his first hearing that he has attended via a video conference (SEGBİS) from Kandıra Prison in Kocaeli province in western Turkey. Baluken will be under legal probation according to the decision of the court.
Meanwhile, HDP deputy Nadir Yıldırım has been taken into custody while following the trial of fellow MP İdris Baluken. Yıldırım was detained in the Diyarbakır 8th Criminal Court of Justice where he was following the trials of HDP Group Vice-Chair and Diyarbakır MPs İdris Baluken and Ziya Pira . During Baluken’s trial, a warrant had reportedly already been issued to forcibly take Yıldırım into custody to appear before court for his own trial. After brief detention Yıldırım was released.
A warrant for HDP Diyarbakır MP Ziya Pir, who did not appear before Diyarbakır 8th Criminal Court of Justice for the hearing, has also been issued. Pir is being indicted on charges of “being a member of an armed terrorist organization”, “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” and “inciting people to hate and hostility”. The charges would carry a prison sentence between nine and a half to 23 years.
Pro-Kurdish HDP and DBP won 103 municipalities in local elections which were held on 30 March 2014. However, with Turkey has stepped up political pressure on Kurdish politicians in recent months, the gov’t appointed trustees to the management of 63 municipalities, arrested a total of 74 Kurdish co-mayors.
Among the arrested party members, there are 132 local chairs of the party and 757 board members. Moreover, the number of party members who have been detained by police has reached to 4.966.
The Turkish government presents the growing number of arrests of Kurdish politicians at the national and local levels as part of the fight against terrorism. However, HDP assesses the detentions and arrests as “political”.
Defining the recent detentions of three deputies as “lawlessnes”, HDP said in a statement on Sunday that “The political responsibility of the decisions of these detentions and arrests is belong to the government. HDP has said that the recent arrests and detentions are part of referendum campaign that people will vote on the constitutional changes on executive presidency for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
HDP stated that “The process is not legal, but political. Deputies’ immunity has been abolished by breaching the Constitution and international democratic conventions… Through taking deputies hostage, arresting and detaining them you cannot break or change our political will. With posing threats and blackmails you cannot prevent us to campaign for “No” in referendum.”
HDP deputies Meral Danış Beştaş, Hüda Kaya and Altan Tan have been detained and later released with legal probation on the weekend. Turkish government has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months.