We are with our brethren: Demirtas on Kurdistan referendum

“It is the people of the South Kurdistan who have the last say on their self-determination."

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - The imprisoned co-leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas over the weekend said he would stand by any decision of the people of the Kurdistan Region revealed after the referendum on independence from Iraq.

“It is the people of the South Kurdistan who have the last say on their self-determination," Demirtas stated using a geopolitical designation Kurds use to refer to the Iraqi part of their homeland divided between Syria, Turkey, and Iran.

"All other sides should respect [the referendum]," Demirtas said whom the Turkish authorities have been holding in a supermax prison in the northwestern province of Edirne since November 2016.

His remarks that appeared in the Turkish Express magazine came as a rebuke to the strongly opposing voices from the governments of Ankara and Tehran.

However, the HDP leader urged the Kurdistan Region officials to go to the ballot box through a parliamentary decision that reflected "national unity."

Kurdistan's President Masoud Barzani and leading parties of the region, except the opposition Goran Movement, announced the plan for seceding from Iraq in June.

Demirtas' party whose thousands of members including nine lawmakers remain in Turkish jails has expressed consistent support for the September 25 referendum.

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls Demirtas a "terrorist," accusing him of membership in the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that is waging a decades-long guerrilla warfare against Turkish troops for Kurdish self-rule, an accusation Demirtas vehemently denies.

Prosecutors have asked up to 142 years of imprisonment for Demirtas in numerous cases, including those of insulting Erdogan.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Demirtas refused to appear in front of a Diyarbakir via teleconference court from the Edirne prison for a case in which he was tried for “insulting the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, and its institutions."

The trial, one of the dozens so far, went on nonetheless with the participation of an attorney representing the Kurdish leader, reported Kurdistan 24's Diyarbakir Bureau.


Editing by Ava Homa