ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) demanded from Turkey on Monday an explanation for the continued detention of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) leaders.
The Strasbourg-based court questioned the Turkish authorities over the legality of the pre-trial imprisonment of HDP politicians, including the party’s Co-chair Selahattin Demirtas and a dozen other lawmakers who make up the second largest opposition bloc in the Parliament.
Police arrested Demirtas and other MPs in November during midnight home raids as part of an ongoing crackdown on terrorism-related charges that has seen over 7,000 Kurdish politicians, elected officials, and mayors arrested.
Kurdistan 24’s Turkish language service said the ECtHR also asked Ankara to explain if the conditions it held Kurdish politicians were in line with the European Human Rights Convention.
Back in February, an HDP delegation to Strasbourg headed by its Spokesperson Osman Baydemir filed an application to the ECtHR against Turkey.
The HDP argued the continuing detention of its leadership and MPs constituted “a violation of the right to freedom and security, freedom of speech and the right to free elections as protected by both the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.”
The Ankara government is required to submit a defense to the court until the autumn, said Kurdistan 24’s Turkish service.
The top European court’s decision to follow the Kurdish politicians’ case came after last month’s criticism by the HDP that the court was not doing enough.
In June, an HDP lawmaker Filiz Kerestecioglu said during a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that the ECtHR failed in taking “the necessary steps to prevent [rights] violations in Turkey.”
“The silence of the Court has encouraged the Government,” she said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet members have accused the HDP of a political front for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting the Turkish troops for larger Kurdish rights.
Earlier this month, Erdogan labeled Demirtas “a terrorist,” despite an ongoing judicial process.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany