Barzani asks Erdogan to release Demirtas: Turk

Turkish authorities have kept Demirtas, HDP’s other Co-chair Figen Yuksekdag, and over 10 lawmakers in prisons across Turkey since November 2016.

ANKARA, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – Kurdistan Region’s President Masoud Barzani asked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the release of the imprisoned Kurdish lawmakers including the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, revealed veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Turk on Monday.

Speaking to reporters in the Turkish capital of Ankara after a meeting with President Barzani, Turk said the situation of the jailed HDP MPs was on the agenda during the Sunday meeting of the two presidents in Istanbul.

Turkish authorities have kept Demirtas, HDP’s other Co-chair Figen Yuksekdag, and over 10 lawmakers in prisons across Turkey since November 2016.

They have been charged with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) waging a decades-long armed campaign against Turkey.

Himself released from a Turkish prison three weeks ago, Turk met President Barzani alongside the Co-mayor of the Kurdish city of Agri Sirri Sakik, said a Kurdistan24 reporter in Ankara.

Turk reminded there were also over 80 Kurdish mayors and several thousand politicians from the HDP and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) in Turkish prisons.

Turk said President Barzani was a “crucial figure” for the Kurds who have become key actors in the Middle East steeped in turmoil.

Cross-border Kurdish unity was another issue President Barzani and the delegation accompanying him discussed with Turk and Sakik.

Although there were scant chances for a new round of the collapsed peace negotiations between the Turkish government and the PKK, Turk hoped dialogue could eventually replace the ongoing conflict.

Moreover, Turk was still critical of the Turkish government’s policies, saying they were anti-Kurdish and aimed at silencing the Kurds.

A new peace process should begin, Turk said, adding he believed President Barzani “would do anything he could” to bring a new initiative to end the costly bloodshed ongoing since mid-2015.

Before his official visit to Turkey, President Barzani told the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that Kurdish politicians in Turkey should be released.

 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

(Kurdistan24 Ankara Bureau contributed to this report)