Middle East Turkey denies European lawmakers access to imprisoned Kurdish leader

Turkey denies European lawmakers access to imprisoned Kurdish leader
The head of the European Parliament delegation Sergei Stanishev who was denied access by Turkish authorities to meet with the imprisoned Kurdish HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas speaks to reporters, Edirne, Turkey, Nov. 21, 2016. (Photo: Kurdistan24)

EDIRNE, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – Turkish police and gendarmerie in the city of Edirne denied access on Monday to a delegation of lawmakers from the European Parliament (EP) to meet with the imprisoned co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas.

The delegation of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats headed by the Bulgarian member of the EP Sergei Stanishev had to wait outside the high-security prison.

Demirtas was transferred on a military chopper to the prison on an early November night in the northwestern city of Edirne on the border with Bulgaria.

Speaking to reporters, among them a Kurdistan24 correspondent, Stanishev protested Turkish authorities and said the denial of access to them would come up as an issue in an upcoming EU meeting on relations with Turkey.

A dozen EP and HDP lawmakers were accompanying Stanishev who said the wave of arrests and imprisonments of Kurdish politicians was “unacceptable.”

Turkish authorities only allowed Demirtas’ lawyers to meet with their client.

The Party of European Socialists, which Stanishev is a member of, slammed Turkish prevention of meeting with Demirtas in a tweet that stated political prisoners had rights.

“The HDP is a democratic and legal political party. We regard what is happening today as a process of destruction of the HDP,” continued the EP delegation head, according to the Kurdistan24 reporter.

The HDP leader was arrested among other Kurdish politicians in the last two months.

Last week, the HDP MP Osman Baydemir, who represents an Urfa Province constituency, said Demirtas was held in the same prison ward with jihadists and felons.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Ercan Dag contributed to this report from Edirne)