Turkish gov’t refuses to allow pro-Kurdish HDP co-chairs visit Demirtaş in prison

An appeal filed by Sezai Temelli and Pervin Buldan, the co-chairs of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), to visit HDP’s jailed presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş in prison was rejected by Turkish authorities on Friday.

According to a report by the Fırat news agency (ANF), since Buldan, Temelli and the HDP’s parliamentary candidates were not allowed to read a press statement in front of the prison, the group read their statement five kilometers away from the facility.

“Today, we came to Edirne to meet with our presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş. We submitted a request to the Ministry of Justice one week ago, but we never received a response and were prevented from issuing a press statement in front of the prison,” Buldan  said, adding, “It is a shame that we are releasing a statement here in Edirne, where we came to see our presidential candidate.”

“Demirtaş is the candidate for millions of people. He is the hope of millions of people. Demirtaş is the presidential candidate for a party that 6 million people voted for. They can keep Demirtaş hostage behind closed doors, but they can’t erase him from the hearts of millions. Their fear is due to the courage Demirtaş has. Their fear is against the way Demirtaş will govern this country. They are holding Demirtaş hostage because they are afraid.”

Stating that in the last 18 months he wasn’t given permission to see Demirtaş even once, Temelli stated that “aside from not being able to see him, there is no legal basis for Demirtaş being held hostage for 568 days… It is time to end this imprisonment. The rights violations have extended to violation of the right to participate in elections.”

“It is unjust not only for Demirtaş, but for the millions who voted for Demirtaş. This is a matter that concerns millions of people. And we are talking about 6 million voters here, Demirtaş has just as much of a chance as any other candidate. He may be the next president of the Republic of Turkey. The judges should reconsider their decision.”

Meanwhile, a Turkish court on Friday sentenced Sebahat Tuncel, former deputy of the HDP and co-chair of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), to five months in prison on charges of violating the law on demonstrations.

Tuncel, who has been jailed in Kandira F Type Closed Prison, was heard at the Büyükçekmece 11th Court of First Instance in İstanbul through a video conference system (SEGBİS). Tuncel has been accused of “violation of Law No. 2911 on Demonstrations” because of her participation in a march in support of prisoners on hunger strike in 2012.

In her short defense, Tuncel said, “It was a democratic march promoted to give a voice to the prisoners.” The judge sentenced Tuncel to six months’ imprisonment but reduced the sentence to five months.

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