Top court finds rights violations in prosecution of Kurdish politician Demirtaş

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has found rights violations in the trial of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, who was prosecuted due to slogans promoting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that were chanted at a demonstration he attended in southeastern Turkey in 2011, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Mezopotamya news agency.

The court ordered damages in the amount of TL 13,500 ($770) be paid to Demirtaş, the former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) before he was jailed as part of a crackdown on Kurdish politicians in the aftermath of a coup attempt in Turkey in 2016.

In its decision the top court said the applicant being one of the participants of the demonstration does not automatically mean that he was among the organizers of the event. The court’s said Demirtaş taking part in the event also does not mean that he bears responsibility for the unlawful actions that took place during it.

A Turkish court in 2019 handed down a suspended sentence to Demirtaş for violating the law on meetings and demonstrations due to the chanting of pro-PKK slogans at a demonstration in Şırnak province and the presence of posters featuring jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

The PKK, which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s southeast since 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and EU. Its leader, Öcalan, has been jailed on an island in the Sea of Marmara since 1999.

Demirtaş, who was the co-chair of the now-defunct pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) at the time, was traveling to Şırnak to attend a party meeting when he was stopped by demonstrators in Cizre province who wanted to welcome him.

Arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 on terrorism-related charges, Demirtaş has since then remained in prison despite two European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings in 2018 and 2020 that said Demirtaş was imprisoned for “political” reasons and not for “legal” reasons, ordering his “immediate release.”

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