Turkish court upholds jail sentence for Kurdish leader Demirtas
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The Turkish Court of Cassation has upheld a four-year and eight-month prison sentence against the imprisoned former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas.
The Istanbul Heavy Penal Court previously sentenced Demirtas to prison due to his statement during Newroz celebrations in Istanbul on March 17, 2013, BIA net reported.
The Court of Cassation upheld this prison sentence on April 26, when the first hearing of Kobani trial was held last Monday for 108 politicians from the HDP over their alleged support for protests in 2014.
Read More: Turkey puts 108 pro-Kurdish politicians on trial over support for 2014 protests
He remains jailed despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling twice in favor of Turkey releasing Demirtas.
The Turkish police arrested Demirtas along with 10 other lawmakers in simultaneous night raids across several provinces on Nov. 4, 2016, with serious charges of terrorism and “separatism” being made, based on various public speeches they had delivered in the past.
Since then, he has been charged with various crimes and remained in jail despite international calls to release him.
Dr. Aykan Erdemir, senior director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former member of the Turkish parliament, told Kurdistan 24 that Turkey’s ruling Islamist-ultranationalist coalition knows that Demirtas’s “charismatic leadership” is “a threat to its rule.”
He said Demirtas’s success “in attracting not only Kurdish but also Turkish voters poses a significant threat to the government’s ability to secure a majority in the upcoming elections.”
“Even from his prison cell, Demirtas continues to be one of the most effective opposition figures in Turkey, wielding outsized influence beyond his own party.”
“Demirtas’s pragmatism, which has allowed the pro-Kurdish HDP to join forces with other opposition parties to defeat the candidates of the ruling bloc in the 2019 municipal elections, remains a major concern for Erdogan.”
Erdemir said that silencing Demirtas and blocking his vision and efforts that could deliver an opposition victory in the 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections “is central to the government’s electoral strategy.”
“Given the Turkish judiciary’s near-total submission to the executive branch in Turkey, it would be naïve to expect any fair treatment for Demirtas in Turkish courts,” he concluded.
Editing by Khrush Najari