ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Turkish court on Wednesday denied Germany’s ambassador to Turkey from attending the hearing of former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, the German Embassy in Ankara said.
Ambassador Martin Erdmann intended to follow the hearing of the Kurdish leader at a court in Ankara’s Sincan district, but was denied access by court officials, the Embassy said on its Twitter account.
Demirtas, who has been in pre-trial detention for years on various separatism and terror-related charges, faces up to 142 years in prison if he is found guilty.
Under his leadership, the HDP became the first pro-Kurdish party to pass Turkey’s 10 percent-high parliamentary electoral threshold in 2015 elections, almost costing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) another chance to form a single-party government.
The Kurdish leader, who was instrumental during the talks and ceasefire between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish government, has described his continued detention as “being a hostage” to Erdogan’s plan of “forging a one-man rule” in the country.
Since Demirtas’ arrest in November 2016—after a failed military coup in July 2016—the Turkish government has cracked down heavily on the pro-Kurdish party, arresting hundreds of officials and members.
Turkey accuses the HDP, the second-largest opposition party in the Turkish government, of harboring close ties to the PKK, who is locked in ongoing armed resistance against Ankara.
Germany and other European countries have repeatedly pointed to Turkey’s violations of civilians’ freedoms, fundamental rights, and the rule of law in the country.