HDP party council member arrested at İstanbul airport to serve prison sentence

Pınar Aydınlar, party council member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who is also a famous folk singer, was arrested on Tuesday due to a final judgment by the İzmir 2nd High Criminal Court, immediately upon her arrival at İstanbul Atatürk Airport from Germany, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

The court’s original verdict, in which Aydınlar was convicted of “disseminating terrorist propaganda” in an election campaign speech in İzmir province in 2015, was two years, one month in prison, which was reduced to 10 months on appeal.

Following her arrest, she was brought to Bakırköy Women’s Prison in İstanbul, where she will spend seven and a half months. On her way to İstanbul from Germany early in the morning, Aydınlar tweeted a message to her followers, saying, “I don’t prefer Europe’s fancy streets to my country’s prisons. Time to come back! Hope to see you in free days! Jin Jiyan Azadi [women, life, freedom]!”

The HDP is the second-largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament. The Turkish government’s crackdown on the Kurdish political movement began in late 2016 with the arrest of high profile politicians, including the party’s then co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, which led to the detention of at least 5,000 members of the HDP, including 80 mayors.

Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast. There are currently nine HDP deputies behind bars. The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for several years until a truce in effect collapsed in the summer of 2015. Since then, there have been heavy clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.

More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU. Over 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including a number of women and children, have been killed since July 2015 alone, when the Turkish government and the PKK resumed the armed struggle. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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