Swedish Left Party President Jonas Sjöstedt has said in İstanbul that “It’s worrying that when Turkey is facing a crucial referendum on the political future of the country, the leaders of the ‘No’ campaign not able to campaign but be put in prison. It is totally unacceptable. It’s also unacceptable that the free and critical media are silenced. This is not the sight of a democracy.”
After observing the court hearing of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş via video-conference system in İstanbul Courthouse, Sjöstedt stated that, “I’ve been one of the international observers who are following this trial against Demirtaş. The international presence here has been consisting of not only me but members of parliaments representing many parties in Europe and also there are embassies and consulates that are present here in Turkey. The eyes are on what Turkey has been doing.”
“What we are witnessing now here in Turkey is not a judicial process,” said Sjöstedt and added that “It’s not about having an independent judicial system; it is about silencing the political opposition. The true reason for why Demirtaş, Yüksekdağ and thousands of other HDP members are now behind the bars is because they are opposing the government policy. They want different policy, they want respect for the minorities in the country, they want true democracy, they want equal rights and they want peace.”
Reminding that left parties of Europe follow trials in Turkey, Sjöstedt stated that “We have one simple request: unconditional and immediate release of the prisoners. This demand has broad support in the Swedish Parliament. Last week Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed the same demand: To release Demirtaş, Yüksekdağ and other prisoners without delay. If Turkey doesn’t change its path, it would be tragedy for the country and for all the people that are living here. It would be also very hard for the relationship between Turkey and other European countries.”
Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges. The number of jailed HDP deputies has risen to 12. The systematic persecution targeting Kurds and elected Kurdish politicians have attracted widespread reactions from the region and Western countries.
Feb. 23, 2017