ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A regional Turkish court in Gaziantep on Wednesday upheld an earlier prison sentence of three years, one month, and 15 days for Kurdish politician Hasip Kaplan over “propaganda for a terror group.”
Kaplan is one of the lawyers defending the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) jailed Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas.
Prosecutors were accusing Kaplan, also a former lawmaker for the Sirnak Province, of “committing a crime on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)” for his attendance at a public rally eight years ago in the town of Silopi.
His client Demirtas, charged with separatism, terrorism, and insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, faces up to 142 years of imprisonment in various probes.
Meanwhile, in Diyarbakir, judicial authorities decided to extend the detention of another Kurdish politician, Leyla Guven of Congress for a Democratic Society (DTK).
Police arrested Guven on Monday after an arrest warrant was issued for her over remarks that condemned the Turkish military campaign to capture the Kurdish region of Afrin in northwestern Syria.
“There is no difference between Afrin and Amed [Diyarbakir]. The war will spread across Kurdistan. People are outraged,” Guven said, calling on people to demonstrate against the invasion.
The total number of people arrested nationwide in dozens of provinces for their criticism on social media of Ankara’s Afrin offensive was over 150, state media reported.
Among them were writers, journalists, students as well as local heads of HDP in Aydin, Izmir, Mardin, and Diyarbakir.
At least seven HDP MPs were the target of probes for their criticism of the Afrin operation.
Over the weekend, Erdogan spoke harshly of those daring to protest his army’s aerial and ground attacks on the isolated Kurdish enclave where Turkish airstrikes have killed dozens, among them civilians and fighters of the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG).
He vowed to “pulverize” them, directing his words at the HDP, an opposition bloc already bracing an ongoing crackdown since late 2016 that saw its Co-leader Demirtas, nine lawmakers, 80 mayors, and thousands of members imprisoned.
HDP’s jailed female lawmakers and mayors began a hunger strike to protest Turkey’s attacks on Afrin.
The party’s former Co-leader Figen Yuksekdag, its Deputy Co-leader Aysel Tuğluk, head of parliamentary group Caglar Demirel, and lawmakers Burcu Celik, Gulser Yildirim, Diyarbakir’s elected Co-mayor Gultan Kisanak, government-dismissed mayor of Dersim Nurhayat Altun, Edibe Sahin, and Sebahat Tuncel, Co-chair of Democratic Regions Party (BDP), have joined the strikes.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany