Imprisoned Kurdish leader sues Turkish Interior Minister in libel case

Upon Demirtas' decision to donate sales revenues of a book he wrote to the education of children, Minister Soylu described Demirtas' pen as one "dripping blood."
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Jailed co-leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas filed a libel lawsuit against the Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu over the latter's recent comments on Demirtas's book of fiction, his party announced on Tuesday.

Upon Demirtas' decision to donate the book's sales revenues to the education of children, Minister Soylu described Demirtas' pen as one "dripping blood."

"Let him not bother at all. The Republic of Turkey is a strong state and it does not need his money or his book [written] with a pen dripping blood," he told an audience over the weekend.

Demirtas authored the book Seher a collection of 12 short stories, in a supermax prison in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne where authorities hold him since last year.

Demirtas's collection of 12 short stories he wrote in a Turkish prison. (Source: Dipnot Publications)
Demirtas's collection of 12 short stories he wrote in a Turkish prison. (Source: Dipnot Publications)

Seher was reprinted more than 13 times since its publication in September and has become a hit in book fairs across Turkey.

Police arrested him and a dozen other lawmakers in October 2016 as a part of a state crackdown on the Kurdish political movement that has so far seen over seven thousand people detained and jailed.

Soylu accused Demirtas of ordering the killing of children during the 2014 riots to protests Turkish government's perceived support for the Islamic State (IS) group during the siege of the Kurdish border town of Kobani.

The protests called for by the HDP turned violent with clashes between Kurdish nationalists and Islamist groups as well as the police, resulting in the death of over 40 people, mostly civilian.

In his criminal complaint against the Soylu, Demirtas said Soylu was insulting him and violating the principle of the presumption of innocence while inciting hatred among the people.

Demirtas added that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) last year rejected an HDP motion to authorize a parliamentary committee to investigate the violence.

 

Editing by Sam A.