ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Murat Memis, 31, the faction leader of the Socialist Party (SP) in the Eindhoven city council, was arrested one month ago in Turkey, Dutch media reports.
Memis was released after four days but is unable to leave the country pending a trial that will take place on July 1.
Ankara has charged Memis with being a member and making propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group outlawed in Turkey.
He is even accused of recruiting for the PKK in Europe. However, there is no proof he has been involved in such activities, the Dutch state broadcaster NOS reported.
Nevertheless, on Twitter, Memis supported and retweeted accounts that back the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey accuses of being linked to the PKK.
Moreover, he was active in the Kurdish community in the Netherlands.
Memis is not the only Dutch citizen who has been arrested in Turkey. At least nine other Dutch citizens are in jail or cannot leave the country pending trial.
In April, a Dutch-Kurdish woman and her 5-year-old daughter were jailed in Turkey for being “active” in the Kurdish community.
Serpil Ates, a member of The Hague city council for the Groen Links party, told Kurdistan 24 there is not only fear among the Kurdish community but also progressive Turks.
“The holiday season is coming, and many people ask: are we safe?”
She also said there is “a lot of uncertainty and fear” developing among the people.
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of the case, but added that it could not interfere in the Turkish judicial process.
In an updated travel advisory in May, the foreign ministry warned Dutch citizens that Turkish authorities check electronic devices and could prosecute Dutch citizens for social media posts.
Kurds with a non-Turkish passport who visit Turkey for tourism or travel purposes have been deported in the past for social media posts police in Turkey considered a criticism against the Turkish government or in support of Kurdish rights.
Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands improved in 2018, and diplomatic ties were restored after a brief crisis between the two nations in the run-up to a 2017 referendum on constitutional amendments in Turkey.
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok has highlighted the importance of economic relations between the two countries on several occasions.
Furthermore, there has been a deal in place since 2016 between the European Union and Turkey to stop refugees who flee Syria from reaching Europe.
“There is a refugee deal with Turkey, and economic interests prevail,” Ates said.
“They rather have Turkey take care of refugees rather than protect their own citizens and politicians.”
The Socialist Party, meanwhile, has called on the government to pressure Turkey to release their party member.
The party claims Memis is being prosecuted while there is neither rule of law in Turkey nor freedom of expression.
The statement also confirmed he was arrested for his social media posts.
“Murat Memis is a city council member, not a criminal,” SP MP Sadet Karabulut told Kurdistan 24, calling on Blok to ensure he is released.
The majority of Dutch parties quickly accepted Karabulut’s motion in the parliament to force the government to work on the release of Dutch citizens from Turkish detention.
Only DENK, a party two Dutch Turks set up – which is seen as supportive toward the Turkish government – rejected the motion.
Last week, a DENK MP accused Karabulut of supporting the PKK, leading to tensions in the Dutch Parliament.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany