Turkey prosecutor asks up to 18 years imprisonment for Kurdish MP

"Erdogan and the government have told these prosecutors, courts to punish us," HDP lawmaker Imam Tascier said, accusing Turkish judiciary of taking orders from political authorities.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - A Turkish prosecutor in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir this week demanded up to 18 years of imprisonment for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Imam Tascier for alleged "terrorist propaganda."

During a Thursday trial in a criminal court, judicial authorities claimed that Tascier's attendance in a gathering in September 2015 was in violation of the law and constituted propaganda for the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) whose fighters were clashing with Turkish government forces in urban areas then.

Tascier and several other HDP lawmakers, as well as their constituents, staged a protest back then to condemn a curfew Ankara-appointed governor imposed in Diyarbakir historic Sur district where on and off deadly clashes took place for over three months.

"This is a political case and has nothing to do with justice. They are trying to impose fear on the Kurdish society. I am a representative of Diyarbakir and I am required to be concerned with problems the people of my city face," Tascier told Kurdistan 24 in a Saturday phone call.

"[President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and the government have told these prosecutors, courts to punish us," he said, accusing Turkish judiciary of taking orders from political authorities.

Citing his legislative duties in Ankara, Tascier demanded from the court to excuse him from a further appearance at the court, reported Kurdistan 24's Diyarbakir bureau.

His lawyers demanded more time to prepare a defense while the court agreed to excuse Tascier and postpone the trial.

Tascier who represents his native Diyarbakir at the Parliament was among the first dozen HDP lawmakers who became the target of an ongoing state crackdown.

Several hours after midnight house raids and arrests of HDP's imprisoned Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas along with others on November 4, 2016, police detained Tascier at an Ankara hotel where he was staying.

He was released the same day but was arrested a second time in January in 2017.

According to figures HDP has provided in total, 27 pro-Kurdish lawmakers faced arrest 67 times during the past year.

Nine pro-Kurdish MPs, scores of mayors, thousands of party officials and members remain jailed across prisons in Turkey as five lawmakers have been ousted from the Parliament.

 

Editing by Sam A.