Imprisoned Kurdish opposition leader Demirtas receives French award

“Our foreign affairs co-spokesperson Hişyar Özsoy received the prize on his behalf.”
Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas has been imprisoned by the Turkish government since 2016. (Photo: AFP)
Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas has been imprisoned by the Turkish government since 2016. (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Selahattin Demirtas, the imprisoned former co-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has received the French Prix François Mitterrand du 10 mai award.

The award, given by the Institut François Mitterrand, is named after François Mitterrand, a politician who served two terms (1981–95) as president of France and is revered by Kurds for his support of the Kurdish cause. 

His wife, Danielle Mitterrand, was described as the “mother of Kurds.” She visited the Kurdistan Region in 2002 and 2009. 

Her son Gilbert Mitterrand, the head of the France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, a non-profit charity organization, also visited the Kurdistan Region in December.

Read More: PM Barzani hails historical role of late Danielle Mitterrand in meeting with her son 

“Our former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been unlawfully imprisoned since 2016, has been awarded Prix François Mitterrand du 10 mai,” the HDP English said in a tweet on Wednesday. 

“Our foreign affairs co-spokesperson Hişyar Özsoy received the prize on his behalf,” the HDP said.

Turkish police arrested Demirtas and ten other members of parliament in a series of night raids in November 2016. The lawmakers were accused of terrorism and “separatism” based on speeches they had previously given. 

Demirtas has remained detained ever since, despite two European Court of Human Rights rulings calling for his release. In January, the German government called on Turkey to release him.

Read More: Imprisoned Kurdish opposition leader Demirtas to receive German human rights award

Demirtas also received the city of Weimar’s Human Rights Award last year