Middle East Turkey court sentences pro-Kurdish leader to one year in prison

Turkey court sentences pro-Kurdish leader to one year in prison
A supporter holds a portrait of Figen Yuksekdag, the detained co-leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 8, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – A Turkish court in Istanbul on Tuesday sentenced the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Figen Yuksekdag to one year in prison for disseminating “terrorist” propaganda.

Kurdistan24 Bureau in Istanbul said a prosecutor based terror-related accusations against Yuksekdag on one of her speeches in February 2015, the 16th anniversary of the capture of the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Yuksekdag is currently already serving a 10-month sentence in prison in the Turkish province of Kocaeli.

Police arrested her, alongside HDP’s other Co-chair Selahattin Demirtas and a dozen of the party’s lawmakers in November 2016.

Turkey’s leaders including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuse the HDP, which is the second largest opposition block in the parliament, of being the political wing of the outlawed PKK.

Earlier in February, the Turkish Parliament stripped Yuksekdag of her lawmaker status where she was representing the Kurdish province of Van.

Yuksekdag’s latest punishment is the continuation of an ongoing government crackdown on the legal Kurdish opposition which chose to challenge Erdogan’s ambitions for a stronger presidency.

As Turkey goes to the polls on Sunday on whether to grant executive powers to President Erdogan, the HDP’s leadership and 11 MPs remain in prison.

In February, Demirtas was sentenced to five months of imprisonment for “insulting the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, and its institutions.”

Relentless waves of arrests and continued detentions have also paralyzed HDP’s sister party, the Democratic Regions Party (DBP).

The DBP has nearly 2,500 members in prisons, 83 of them mayors of Kurdish municipalities the Interior Ministry had seized.

DBP Co-chair Sebahat Tuncel was arrested late last year.

In March, a court in Diyarbakir sentenced the party’s other leader Kamuran Yuksek to eight years and nine months of imprisonment for allegedly being a member of a “terrorist organization.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, authorities issued an arrest warrant for HDP lawmaker Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir as part of an ongoing investigation into an urban PKK affiliate the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK).


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany