EU council calls on Turkey to release Kurdish politician
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on Thursday called for the release of the Kurdish opposition politician Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), per two rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
“The continuation of the applicant’s pre-trial detention, on grounds pertaining to the same factual content, would entail a prolongation of the violation of the applicant’s rights as well as a breach of the obligation of the respondent State to abide by the Court’s judgment,” the Council of Europe said, urging the Turkish authorities to “ensure the applicant’s immediate release.”
Read More: European court calls for ‘immediate release’ of Kurdish official jailed by Turkey for 4 years
It also called for the release of the Turkish human rights defender Osman Kavala.
In response to the call by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, Amnesty International’s Europe Director Nils Muižnieks said in a public statement that both “Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş have been arbitrarily and unjustly deprived of their liberty for years, despite the binding Court decisions that they be released.”
“Their continued detention makes a mockery of President Erdoğan’s government’s attempts to whitewash systemic human rights abuses by unveiling a meaningless Human Rights Action Plan last week,” he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this month announced the Human Rights Action Plan, which, according to the pro-Turkish government Daily Sabah, is expected to be executed within the coming two years with a stated goal of improving human rights in Turkey.
The Amnesty Europe Director said that the action plan could not hide the reality of the ongoing imprisonment of these two men and scores of others “for simply exercising their rights shows that in Turkey, freedom of expression is ruthlessly punished.”
“Turkish authorities must release Kavala and Demirtaş, allow human rights defenders to do their work and stop putting undue pressure on their judges,” he underlined.
“It is high time that states across Europe tell Turkey that prosecuting and imprisoning people for political reasons is unacceptable,” he concluded.
Demirtas remains jailed despite two ECHR rulings favoring his release.
Since the collapse of a peace process between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2015, some 16,300 HDP members have been detained, with 3,500 of them receiving prison sentences, party officials told the Mezopotamya news agency in November 2019.
Turkish police arrested Demirtas and ten other lawmakers in simultaneous night raids across several provinces on Nov. 4, 2016, with severe charges of terrorism and “separatism” being made, based on various public speeches they had delivered in the past.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year criticized the EU court ruling, calling Demirtas a “terrorist,” Daily Sabah has reported.
“If the ECtHR wants to be respected by Turkey, it should first get its act together,” he said.
Last month, another 700 people were arrested in Turkey, including members of the pro-Kurdish HDP party, Reuters reported.
Editing by Khrush Najari