Imprisoned HDP co-chair given 14-month jail sentence for ‘insulting’ Erdoğan

Former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) Figen Yuksekdag.

Figen Yüksekdağ, former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been given a prison sentence of 14 months on charges of insulting Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The decision was made by the Mersin 7th Penal Court of First Instance.

Yüksekdağ is already in prison. She was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 along with eight HDP deputies including the other HDP co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş. Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals canceled the party membership of Yüksekdağ and stripped her of her parliamentary status on Feb. 21. The parliamentary status of Yüksekdağ was removed after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a jail sentence handed down in 2013.

Yüksekdağ was sentenced to 10 months for participating in the funeral ceremony of Yasemin Çiftçi, a member of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) – a terrorist group affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The Supreme Court of Appeals’ 16th Criminal Chamber approved the jail sentence for Yüksekdağ on Nov. 2, 2016.

Scores of people in Turkey have been detained or arrested or are under investigation on allegations of insulting Erdoğan. As of the end of 2016, at least 10,000 people were under investigation on suspicion of terrorist propaganda and insulting senior state officials on social media.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Interior Affairs in December, 3,710 social media users had been investigated in the last six months of 2016, of whom 1,656 were arrested. A total of 1,203 of those investigations resulted in releases on probation.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges. There are currently 10 HDP deputies behind bars. (SCF with May 27, 2017

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