Kurdish politician in Turkey kept in jail despite eligibility for release

Gültan Kışanak

Gültan Kışanak, a Kurdish politician and the former co-mayor of Diyarbakır incarcerated in Turkey, is being denied release by the authorities despite her eligibility to be freed, the TR724 news website reported on Thursday.

Behind bars on terrorism-related charges since October 2016, Kışanak has ongoing trials before two separate courts. She was also sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2019, a conviction that has yet to be upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

As she recently completed the seventh year of her detention, the issue was brought to parliament by Meral Danış Beştaş, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) who submitted a written inquiry addressed to Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç.

In the parliamentary inquiry, Beştaş pointed out that the courts have no discretion over the seven-year threshold for detention without a conviction upheld by an appeals court as stipulated by law, describing Kışanak’s continued detention as arbitrary.

Incarcerated in Kocaeli province, Kışanak was temporarily released in August to attend her sister’s funeral in Elazığ.

Dozens of Kurdish politicians in Turkey are accused of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), although the party strongly denies any ties. The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

A government crackdown on Kurdish parties and politicians in Turkey reached new heights following a coup attempt in the country in July 2016.

Dozens of democratically elected Kurdish mayors were removed from office, while a large number of Kurdish politicians, including former party executives, were jailed following the coup attempt.

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