Turkish court sentences former HDP leaders to lengthy prison terms

Demirtaş, 51, has been in custody since 2016. His imprisonment has drawn international criticism, with the European Court of Human Rights calling for his immediate release, arguing that his detention was intended to suppress political pluralism in Turkey.
A woman holding the photo of former HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş. (Photo: Archive)
A woman holding the photo of former HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan24) – In a landmark ruling, a Turkish court on Thursday sentenced former People's Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş to 42 years in prison. The sentence stems from his involvement in protests nearly eight years ago against the ISIS siege of Kobani.

Former party co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ was also handed a 30-year prison sentence.

Demirtaş, 51, has been in custody since 2016. His imprisonment has drawn international criticism, with the European Court of Human Rights calling for his immediate release, arguing that his detention was intended to suppress political pluralism in Turkey.

Turkish media reported that Demirtaş faced numerous charges, including undermining the unity and integrity of Turkey.

The court in Sincan, Ankara, where Yüksekdağ was also sentenced, underscored the severity of the offenses attributed to the former HDP leaders.

The sentencing has triggered significant unrest, particularly in the southern provinces with large Kurdish and Syrian communities.

At least 14 provinces have declared four days of demonstrations in response to the court's decision, reflecting widespread discontent and fear of further instability.

In a related development, the court ordered the release of several politicians, including former Diyarbakir Mayor Gültan Kisanak.

However, many others remain incarcerated, deepening the political divide and tension within the country.

Defense lawyers for Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ announced their intention to appeal the court's rulings, highlighting the controversial nature of the case, which dates back to the early years of the Syrian war.

The legal battles for HDP members continue to be a focal point in Turkey's contentious political landscape.

Additionally, on Thursday, the Ankara court sentenced Merdin Mayor Ahmet Turk to 10 years in prison, further illustrating the Turkish judiciary's rigorous stance on political figures associated with the HDP.

The court's decisions have significant implications for Turkey's political environment, potentially influencing future relations with international human rights organizations and impacting domestic stability amid ongoing regional conflicts.