Turkey court sentences ex-Kurdish MPs Baydemir, Birlik to 18 months

Baydemir and Birlik were previously sentenced to 17 months and 21 months respectively for insulting "police" and President Erdogan.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In the latest blow to the Kurdish political opposition in Turkey, a court in the Kurdish city of Sirnak handed down 18 months of imprisonment each to former lawmakers Osman Baydemir and Leyla Birlik of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Both ex-MPs were found guilty of “violating the law on meetings and demonstrations,” for their participation in protests in 2015 against Turkey’s declaration of round-the-clock, at times months-long, curfews on a dozen Kurdish cities and towns.

The same case also saw a hearing against current lawmakers Alican Onlu and Ayse Acar Basaran, but a final verdict was put off awaiting the lifting of parliamentary immunity they enjoy, a process that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office will trigger.

Baydemir, one of the most spirited voiced of the Kurdish movement was last year sentenced to 17 months and 15 days of imprisonment for calling on-duty Turkish police officers “fascists, and low-lives” during a rally six years ago.

Back then, he was the mayor of the de facto Kurdish capital of Diyarbakir.

Following the sentencing, he was ousted from the Turkish Parliament in April where he was representing the Kurdish province of Sanliurfa.

He made headlines last year after he was ordered out of the assembly for two legislative sessions and fined to some 3,100 USD over uttering the word “Kurdistan” at the Parliament floors.

Birlik was previously sentenced to 21 months in jail for “insulting” President Erdogan, a common charge that has seen thousands of investigations and hundreds of arrests against other politicians, journalists, academics, social media users, and children.

Birlik’s family has repeatedly been the target of detentions and an extrajudicial killing by Turkish government forces.

She is the sister-in-law of Haci Lokman Birlik, an actor who Turkish police special forces killed.

His body was dragged behind an armored vehicle with a rope tied around his neck while an urban battle raged on between Turkish government troops and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) affiliates in Sirnak in October 2015.

She fled Turkey for Greece and sought asylum where she was initially arrested for a brief period for crossing the border illegally.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany