Kurdish politician Demirtaş’s life at risk behind bars due to coronavirus, says his wife

Selahattin and Başak Demirtaş

Başak Demirtaş, the wife of jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş, said in a podcast that her husband’s life is at serious risk due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the Diken news website reported on Thursday.

“As with other relatives of prisoners, I am not doing well these days,” she said. “We cannot be OK while our loved ones are kept behind bars amid a life-threatening problem.”

“Selahattin has previously undergone two surgeries in connection with his cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and his problems still continue, unfortunately.”

Başak Demirtaş added that her husband was diagnosed with hypertension, which was, according to the figures provided by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, something that 69 percent of those who died of COVID-19 suffered from.

The podcast episode, titled “The Sacrificed: Prisons in the aftermath of the sentence reduction law,” dealt with legislation that the Turkish parliament passed last week to ease overcrowding in prisons.

The law led to heated debate as it categorically excluded political prisoners charged with “terrorism” and failed to address pre-trial detentions.

Selahattin Demirtaş has been in jail since November 2016.

Following a lengthy pre-trial detention that was denounced by the European Court of Human Rights as a “political act,” the former leader of the Kurdish-oriented Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was sentenced to prison for “disseminating terrorist propaganda.”

The 46-year-old politician was referred to a university hospital last December due to his deteriorating health, specifically chest pain and respiratory problems. (turkishminute.com)

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