A Turkish prosecutor in Diyarbakir has demanded up to 18 years of imprisonment for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy İmam Taşçıer over his alleged “terrorist propaganda.”
According to a report by online news portal Kurdistan24, during a Thursday trial in a criminal court in Diyarbakır Turkish judicial authorities claimed that Taşçıer’s attendance in a gathering in September 2015 was in violation of the law and constituted propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) whose armed militants were clashing with Turkish government forces in urban areas then.
Taşçıer and several other HDP deputies, as well as their constituents, staged a protest back then to condemn a curfew Ankara-appointed governor imposed in Diyarbakır’s historic Sur district where on and off deadly clashes took place for over three months.
“This is a political case and has nothing to do with justice. They are trying to impose fear on the Kurdish society. I am a representative of Diyarbakır and I am required to be concerned with problems the people of my city face,” Taşçıer told Kurdistan 24 in a Saturday phone call. “(Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan and the government have told these prosecutors, courts to punish us,” Taşçıer said, accusing Turkish judiciary of taking orders from political authorities.
Citing his legislative duties in Ankara, Taşçıer has reportedly demanded from the court to excuse him from a further appearance at the court. His lawyers demanded more time to prepare a defense while the court agreed to excuse Tascier and postpone the trial.
Taşçıer is among the dozen HDP lawmakers who became the target of an ongoing crackdown by Turkish government. Several hours after midnight house raids and arrests of HDP’s imprisoned Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas along with others on November 4, 2016, police detained Taşçıer at an Ankara hotel where he was staying. He was released the same day but was arrested a second time in January in 2017.
According to figures HDP has provided in total, 27 pro-Kurdish deputies faced arrest 67 times during the past year. Nine pro-Kurdish deputies, scores of mayors, thousands of party officials and members remain jailed across prisons in Turkey as 5 deputies have been ousted from the Turkish Parliament.