HDP appeals to Turkish high court for its leaders' release

HDP Spokesperson Osman Baydemir said the high court should ensure the freedom of Demirtas and Yuksekdag as their continued detention was a violation of the Turkish Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights.

ANKARA, Turkey (Kurdistan24) - Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) called on the Turkish Constitutional Court on Monday to abide by its previous judicial opinions for the release of the party's co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

Accompanied by a large delegation of lawmakers, HDP Spokesperson Osman Baydemir said the high court should ensure the freedom of Demirtas and Yuksekdag as their continued detention was a violation of the Turkish Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights.

A 2013 opinion issued by the court led to the freedom of a then jailed opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) lawmaker Mustafa Balbay on the ground that his more than two years of pre-trial detention was a violation of voters' will.

Baydemir told Kurdistan24 correspondent that the imprisonment of Demirtas and Yuksekdag because of their speeches, and political activities was "enmity toward the Kurds."

"This is the stomping of six million voters' rights. Our MPs are in prison because of their views. What are politicians supposed to do when they can't speak," asked Baydemir who represents the Kurdish-majority province of Sanliurfa at the Turkish Parliament.

 

 

[HDP's Demirtas (right) seen walking in jail yard along fellow lawmaker Abdullah Zeydan in a supermax prison in the Turkish city of Edirne in this March, 2017 picture released by his party]

 

Having gotten 11 percent of votes in December 2015 general elections, the HDP has 59 seats in the Parliament.

Police arrested Demirtas, Yuksekdag, and 11 other HDP MPs during house raids in several cities in November 2016.

Turkey's leaders accuse HDP officials of collaborating with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has been leading a guerrilla war against Turkish troops for larger Kurdish rights.

In 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Demirtas' call for autonomy "treason."

 

Editing by Ava Homa 

(Azad Altun in Ankara contributed to this report.)