ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - European Parliament rapporteur Kati Piri called in a report on Wednesday for the release of opposition leader and former presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas and called for suspending EU-Turkey talks due to decreasing human rights in Turkey.
Demirtas, the former co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and a previous presidential candidate, was detained and put in prison in November 2016 along with nine other lawmakers in a crackdown that purged President Tayyip Erdogan's political rivals shortly after a failed military coup attempt.
Also on Wednesday, a hearing in which allegations that Demirtas had insulted former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will be ruled upon began at an Istanbul courthouse.
Piri condemned the “continued arrest of Selahattin Demirtas, opposition leader and presidential candidate” and said the European Parliament “pledged to continue to follow his case very closely and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.”
Moreover, the rapporteur expected the European Court of Human Rights to soon deliver its final judgement on the case of Demirtas.
On her official Twitter page, the Dutch politician and MEP posted, “Continuing a negotiating process aimed at EU integration of Turkey has lost all credibility under the present circumstances.”
The report also noted with great concern the “arrest of two CHP (Republican People’s Party) MPs and the way the HDP has been particularly marginalized with many HDP lawmakers being arrested on the grounds of alleged support for terrorist activities.”
“With the full implementation of the constitutional amendments, which legitimises an all-powerful presidency with powers to personally appoint or dismiss ministers, select judges and rule by decree, a red line has been crossed for the European Parliament.”
It continued, “Apart from the clearly autocratic nature of the recently introduced presidential system, which lacks the necessary democratic checks and balances, it is impossible to ignore the further regression of the rule of law with over 50,000 people, including journalists, politicians and human rights defenders, still in jail since the attempted coup and 150,000 civil servants dismissed without proper legal procedures.”
The report also mentioned concerns over the very high number of Kurdish mayors and co-mayors in the “South-East were dismissed or arrested and that the Government appointed trustees to replace them.”
The rapporteur underlined that the municipal elections in March 2019 must provide a substantial opportunity to reinstate fully the principle of a direct democratic mandate.
Piri also highlighted that the body is “very concerned by the situation in the South-East and the serious allegations of human rights abuses, especially since the collapse of the Kurdish settlement process in 2015; reiterates its firm condemnation of the return to violence by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been on the EU list of terrorist organisations since 2002.”
Furthermore, it stressed “the urgency of resuming a credible political process leading to a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish issue,” calling on Turkey to promptly investigate serious allegations of human rights abuses and killings and to allow international observers to independently verify any results.
She also stressed that improvement in relations between EU states and Turkey does not mean that a poor human rights record should be ignored.
“The more friendly statements of the Turkish government about the EU and some of its member states or for example the restoration of full diplomatic relations with The Netherlands cannot conceal these facts.”
Editing by John J. Catherine