Lawyers for Turkey’s jailed Kurdish presidential candidate apply to ECtHR

Lawyers for Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed presidential candidate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on behalf of their client on Tuesday.

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), lawyers Mahsuni Karaman, Benan Molu and Ramazan Demir decide to apply after a decision by two Turkish courts to reject their request to temporarily release Demirtaş to allow him to run his campaign for elections on June 24.

In the application to the ECtHR, the lawyers argued that in fact Demirtaş’s rights as established in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) have been denied.

Karaman reminded that applications to release the HDP presidential candidate were rejected by the Ankara 19th and 20th High Criminal Courts and added: “We have appealed to the Constitutional Court [AYM] on this. However, the AYM has not made a decision and in fact kept the file under wraps during the election.”

The lawyer confirmed that on Tuesday they applied to the ECtHR on the grounds that Demirtaş was “denied the right to freedom of expression and security, the right to freedom of expression, the right to a free election and violations of the principles stated in the convention.”

Demirtaş was arrested in November 2016 and has been in prison since then. There are currently more than 30 indictments filed against him, mostly over his public statements. However, he is in prison for only one case in which he is being tried for being a member of a “terrorist organisation.”

Meanwhile, Leyla Güven, a Kurdish activist and politician detained in Turkey in January, will make a formal application to be released from detention after winning a seat in parliament in the June 24 elections.

Güven, the co-leader of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an NGO promoting Kurdish self-governance, was among dozens detained in January shortly after Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch, a military operation against Syrian Kurdish forces in northwest Syria.

Güven was charged with “establishing and administering an [illegal] organisation” in late January, and like many with links to the Kurdish political movement has been held in pre-trial detention since then.

She ran in the June elections for the HDP, winning a seat in Hakkari, a predominantly Kurdish province in Turkey’s Southeast. The newly elected deputy will apply to be released once she has received her certificate of election, online news outlet Diken reported on Monday.

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