Turkey demands 10 years in prison for jailed former co-chairperson of pro-Kurdish HDP

Former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) Figen Yuksekdag.

Figen Yüksekdağ, jailed former co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is facing a sentence of 10 years in jail over alleged “terrorist propaganda” and “defaming the Turkish Republic.”

Mersin 2nd High Penal Court continued the case on Monday against Yüksekdağ, who was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016, along with nine other HDP lawmakers, and has been in prison since then, in her absence with prosecutors seeking a sentence of 10 years in prison over a speech she delivered at Nevruz celebrations in the southern province of Mersin in 2016.

Yüksekdağ’s lawyer Gülseren Yoleri told Turkish media that “There are currently more than 20 cases against Yüksekdağ ongoing in different courts. There are also eight different investigations by prosecutors filed against her, and we anticipate them being turned into a case.”

After her first conviction was finalized in February, Yüksekdağ was stripped of her seat in parliament. “And two other convictions are in an appeal process,” her lawyer said.

As the Ankara 16th High Penal Court is also continuing a case against, her lawyers demanded a merge of files, but the Mersin Court declined the demand on grounds that the “two cases only have her name in common,” adjourning the hearing. Yüksekdağ is facing 30 to 83 years in prison for “inciting to commit a crime” and “inciting the public to hatred and hostility,” in an Ankara case, where the next hearing will be held on September 18.

Turkish government has been criticized for stepping up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians. There are currently 10 HDP deputies behind bars in Turkey including Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chair of the party. 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.

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