Kurdish politician sentenced to more than 4 years in prison on insult charges

Kurdish politician Selma Irmak

A Turkish court has sentenced Kurdish politician and former MP Selma Irmak to four years, two months in prison on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and denigrating the government, the Kronos news website reported on Wednesday.

Irmak was convicted over her televised remarks in 2015 on clashes between Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces of the country.

Her remarks included comments on controversial and graphic images and video footage that emerged from the region during the escalation in 2015, such as photographs of Hacı Lokman Birlik, a man whose dead body was seen tied to an armored vehicle and dragged on the ground, and Ekin Wan, a female PKK militant whose naked corpse was exposed.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

However, Turkish authorities are frequently accused of mistreating the civilian population in the southeast and conflating political dissent with ties to or propaganda on behalf of the PKK, based on the country’s overly broad counterterrorism legislation.

Insulting the president is a criminal offense in Turkey, punishable by imprisonment. Rarely implemented during the terms of earlier presidents, it has resulted in several thousand convictions since Erdoğan’s ascent to the presidency.

Although the Turkish president is no longer politically impartial under the country’s executive presidential system of governance that was adopted in 2017, the provision about insulting the president remains in effect.

Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!