Kurdish lawmaker in Turkey sentenced to six years in prison

Authorities have been holding Celik, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in pre-trial detention in the Sincan prison in capital Ankara since her arrest in April.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - A Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker, Burcu Celik on Friday received six years of imprisonment from a Turkish court over charges of "aiding a terrorist group."

The criminal court in the Kurdish city of Mus which Celik represents at the Turkish Parliament claimed her attendance at the funeral of a fallen Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) member was aid and collaboration with the group which has been waging a decades-long guerrilla warfare over state repression of Kurdish rights.

Authorities have been holding Celik in pre-trial detention in the Sincan prison in capital Ankara since her arrest in April.

Police arrested her in Mus on the grounds of being affiliated with an armed "terrorist" organization as a part of an ongoing government clampdown on Kurdish politicians countrywide.

She had to be present at her fourth trial in the Mus court via teleconference from the Ankara prison, reported Kurdistan 24's Turkish language service.

In her defense, Celik said her attendance at the PKK funerals was a human duty and the case against her was politically motivated.

A lawyer by profession, Celik has a three-year-old daughter whom she demanded to care for in prison.

In May, Turkey's Justice Ministry allowed her to be reunited with her daughter, but their separation continued after her court hearing.

The lawmaker's father, Kadri Celik, was a high-ranking Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighter killed in a mine explosion in 2012, a year before the now-collapsed peace talks between the Kurdish rebels and the Turkish government.

A day earlier, a court in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir sentenced HDP's spokesperson Osman Baydemir to one year, five months, and 15 days of imprisonment for calling three Turkish police officers “fascists, and low-lives” in 2012.

Baydemir and his party's co-chair Serpil Kemalbay were in Kurdistan Region's city of Sulaimani to join the deceased Kurdish leader and former President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani's funeral.

Turkey has already jailed HDP’s co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and nine other lawmakers, along with 80 mayors and thousands of party members.

The Turkish Parliament has ousted five of the party’s MPs, bringing down the total number of pro-Kurdish lawmakers from 59 to 54 at the 550-seat assembly.

Having been convicted of a crime, Celik, too, face a prospect of losing her seat.

Erdogan accuses the HDP of being a political front for the outlawed PKK, a charge that HDP vehemently denies.


Editing by Ava Homa