Turkish court rules for continuation of imprisonment of pro-Kurdish HDP’s Demirtaş

The Ankara 19th High Criminal Court ruled on Friday for a continuation of the imprisonment of Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), following three days of hearings in his trial.

According to a report by online news outlet Artı Gerçek, Demirtaş was not released by the court following the court sessions held on the premises of Sincan Prion in Ankara. The trial is scheduled to continue on July 18,19 and 20.

Meanwhile, Aykut Erdoğdu, a deputy for Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said Demirtaş is in jail because he was sincere in his efforts to end terrorism. “I think I observed and felt Demirtaş’s effort to end terror and his sincerity. I think he was working to end violence and is a sincere man. He might be in jail because of his sincere efforts, his efforts to end terror,” the Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Erdoğdu as saying.

Demirtaş has been in jail since 2016 facing multiple charges of membership of a terrorist organisation and disseminating terrorist propaganda. Erdoğdu said though he and Demirtaş differed in their views, he should still be in parliament so he can continue his efforts to end terrorism in Turkey.

“Those who believe that they can solve the problem by putting members of parliament in jail should recall previous deputies to whom they had done the same. Those who carry out such operations feel powerful when they are doing it, but eventually the river of history runs through a valley, and those people will be rocks falling into this river of history. They will be ashamed when that day comes,” Erdoğdu said.

Also, on Friday, Figen Yüksekdağ, the HDP’s other former co-chair, was given a six-month prison sentence in a trial in Van province in which she was accused of “violating electoral prohibitions.” Yüksekdağ  was tried for a speech she gave in Van on October 27, 2015. The sentence is first of its kind on charges of “violating electoral prohibitions.”

The Turkish government’s crackdown on the Kurdish political movement began in late 2016 with the arrest of high profile politicians, including the party’s then co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, which led to the detention of at least 5,000 members of the HDP, including 80 mayors.

Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast. There are currently 9 HDP deputies behind bars. The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the outlawed PKK for several years until a truce in effect collapsed in the summer of 2015. Since then, there have been heavy clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.

More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU. Over 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including a number of women and children, have been killed since July 2015 alone, when the Turkish government and the PKK resumed the armed struggle.

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