Turkish court gives prison sentence to pro-Kurdish HDP deputy Beştaş over ‘insulting’ gov’t, state

HDP deputy Meral Danış Beştaş.

Turkish court has sentenced pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Meral Danış Beştaş on Friday to 2 years and 3 months in jail for her social media posts and a speech, that she gave last year on the killing of 16-year-old Mahmut Can Çakır and over the declaration of curfews in Sur, Silvan and Cizre districts of Diyarbakır province, which has been deemed as “an obvious insult to the government and the Turkish state.”

Beştaş has been prosecuted by Adana 8th Penal Court of Peace over her social media posts and a speech in February 2016 which implied Turkish police were deliberately provoking violence in the wake of civil unrest that resulted in the deaths of two Kurdish demonstrators. Two young men, 16-year-old Mahmut Can Çakır and 19-year-old Murat Daşkan, were killed during clashes between protesters and police in Adana, a southern province Beştaş represents in the parliament.

According to a report by Ahval, an online news outlet, during Beştaş’s speech a week after the incidents, she produced bullets that she said had been delivered anonymously to both HDP supporters and rival Kurdish Hizbullah’s sympathisers in the city, each with the other group’s name written on. “Those who placed these bullets are the same who killed Mahmut Can Çakır and Murat Daşkan, she said and added “Those who place bombs here and those who do not catch the culprits are the same.”

She also called the government “the real separatists”: “These massacres, these barbarous sanctions … are actually aimed at dividing Turkey. If the issue is separatism, it is those in Turkey who answer demands for equal and free lives in a common homeland on the basis of a democratic nation state with massacres who are trying to divide this people from one another.

There are currently 10 HDP deputies, including the party’s co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and former co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ behind bars in Turkey after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government stepped up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians in 2016 fall. 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 developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.

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