Imprisoned HDP leader Demirtaş sues Turkish Interior Minister in libel case

Jailed co-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas filed a libel lawsuit against the Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu over the latter’s recent comments on Demirtaş’s book of fiction, his party announced on Tuesday.

According to a report by Iraqi Kurdistan-based online news portal Kurdistan24, upon Demirtaş’s decision to donate the book’s sales revenues to the education of children, Minister Soylu described Demirtaş’s pen as one “dripping blood.” “Let him not bother at all. The Republic of Turkey is a strong state and it does not need his money or his book [written] with a pen dripping blood,” he told an audience over the weekend.

Demirtas authored the book Seher a collection of 12 short stories, in a supermax prison in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne where authorities hold him since last year. Seher was reprinted more than 13 times since its publication in September 2017 and has become a hit in book fairs across Turkey.

Police arrested Demirtaş and a dozen other HDP deputies in October 2016 as a part of a state crackdown on the Kurdish political movement that has so far seen over seven thousand people detained and jailed.

Soylu accused Demirtas of ordering the killing of children during the 2014 riots to protests Turkish government’s perceived support for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terror group during the siege of the Kurdish border town of Kobani. The protests called for by the HDP turned violent with clashes between Kurdish nationalists and Islamist groups as well as the police, resulting in the death of over 40 people, mostly civilian.

In his criminal complaint against the Soylu, Demirtaş said Soylu was insulting him and violating the principle of the presumption of innocence while inciting hatred among the people. Demirtaş added that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) last year rejected a HDP motion to authorize a parliamentary committee to investigate the said violence.

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