Kurdish leader Demirtaş’s books displayed among criminal ‘evidence’ seized in police raid

Three books authored by Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş — “Leylan,” “Devran” and “Seher” — were displayed among criminal “evidence” seized in a police raid on Friday in Manisa province, the Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reported.

Police raided the homes of nine members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Fırat Erol, Hediye Er and Mahide Doğan were released after interrogation, while the other six remain in detention. Three books written by former HDP co-chair Demirtaş while in prison were among the objects displayed by the police to the press.

Demirtaş was co-chairperson of the HDP when he was arrested in November 2016. He has been behind bars since then despite a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling in November 2018 that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was political and ordering his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey subsequently upheld a prison sentence handed down to Demirtaş for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Among the seized items were also scarves with red, green and yellow colors of the Kurdish flag, and pictures of two Kurdish children who were killed as result of the conflicts in southeastern Turkey between the military and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

One of the children, 12-year-old Ceylan Önkol, was killed in 2009 after an unexploded mortar shell went off in a field while she was tending sheep. Önkol’s body was left in the field for six hours because the coroner and prosecutor did not feel it was safe enough to enter. It was finally retrieved by her family and other villagers and taken to the morgue. The prosecutor only arrived in the village three days later, citing security concerns.

Representatives from the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity for the Oppressed (Mazlumder), the Diyarbakir Bar Association and Diyarbakir Medical Chamber issued a report on October 5, 2009 saying that the incident could not be properly investigated due to the negligence of the prosecutor’s office and the security forces.

The other child, Uğur Kaymaz, 12, was shot dead by Turkish security forces in southeastern Mardin province in 2004 after being mistaken for a terrorist. His father was also shot and killed.

The Kaymaz family appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) after the officers were acquitted in Turkey. The ECtHR ruled in 2014 that Turkey had violated the right to life of the young boy and his father. Turkey was ordered to pay compensation to the family.

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