Free Selahattin Demirtas

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Free Selahattin Demirtaş!

The repression of the Kurdish political opposition has intensified as Turkey’s authoritarian turn gathered pace since 2015. Since then, the HDP’s district and provincial mayors have been removed from their positions on spurious allegations and thousands of party officials have been arrested and imprisoned.

Who is Selahattin Demirtas?

Selahattin Demirtaş graduated from the Law Faculty of Ankara University and before entering politics he practised law. He was active in the Diyarbakir branch of the Human Rights Association and served as its chairman in 2004. He has been the prominent figure in the HDP and was its co-president when he was detained. He was first elected to the parliament in 2007, and in 2010 he became the co-chair of the HDP’s predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

Demirtaş was a candidate in the presidential election in August 2014 and subsequently became the public face of the HDP. He proved to be a powerful media performer, and his confident and calm approach has won much appraise. He was a presidential candidate in the 2018 election and campaigned while in prison.

What are the charges against Selahattin Demirtaş?

The charges against him relate to the ‘Kobani protests’ that took place across Turkey on 6-8 October 2014 and range from ‘Leadership of a terrorist organization’ to ‘inciting people to commit crimes’ and ‘praising crime and criminals’. If found guilty, he could receive a 142-year prison sentence.

On 19 June 2020, Turkey’s Constitutional Court concluded that Demirtaş’s prolonged detention violated his rights. On 23 December, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concluded that Turkey had violated articles 3, 5, 10 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It ordered Demirtaş’s immediate release and awarded him 28,500 euros in damages.

On 23 December, President Erdogan described the ECtHR's ruling as a political decision and claimed that the court was biased towards Turkey and that Turkey was not obliged to fulfil the decision. Turkish authorities are refusing to comply with the ECtHR judgement and release Demirtaş. On 30 December 2020, Ankara Criminal Court accepted a new indictment in the ‘Kobani’ case. 108 HDP officials, including Demirtaş, will go on trial, which is expected to start on 26 April 2021.

Turkey should comply with the judgement of the ECtHR and release Selahattin Demirtaş immediately.

Message for Your MP

When you sign the petition this message will be sent to Your MP.

Subject: Freedom for Selahattin Demirtaş

I am writing this letter to ask you to support the freedom of the former co-president of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been deprived of his freedom since 4 November 2016. Demirtaş has been an untiring advocate of human rights, democracy and pluralism in Turkey and was at the forefront of the opposition to the Erdogan government’s authoritarian practices.

His detention is connected to the Kurdish political opposition's repression, which has intensified as Turkey’s authoritarian turn gathered pace since 2015. Since then, the HDP’s district and provincial mayors have been removed from their positions on spurious allegations and thousands of party officials have been arrested and imprisoned.

Selahattin Demirtaş graduated from the Law Faculty of Ankara University and before entering politics he practised law. He was active in the Diyarbakir branch of the Human Rights Association and served as its chairman in 2004. He has been the prominent figure in the HDP and was its co-president when he was detained. He was first elected to the parliament in 2007, and in 2010 he became the co-chair of the HDP’s predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

Demirtaş was a candidate in the presidential election in August 2014 and subsequently became the public face of the HDP. He proved to be a powerful media performer, and his confident and calm approach has won much appraise. He was a presidential candidate in the 2018 election and campaigned while in prison.

The charges against him relate to the ‘Kobani protests’ that took place across Turkey on 6-8 October 2014 and range from ‘Leadership of a terrorist organization’ to ‘inciting people to commit crimes’ and ‘praising crime and criminals’. If found guilty, he could receive a 142-year prison sentence.

On 19 June 2020, Turkey’s Constitutional Court concluded that Demirtaş’s prolonged detention violated his rights. On 23 December, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concluded that Turkey had violated articles 3, 5, 10 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It ordered Demirtaş’s immediate release and awarded him 28,500 euros in damages.

On 23 December, President Erdogan described the ECtHR's ruling as a political decision and claimed that the court was biased towards Turkey and that Turkey was not obliged to fulfil the decision. Turkish authorities are refusing to comply with the ECtHR judgement and release Demirtaş. On 30 December 2020, Ankara Criminal Court accepted a new indictment in the ‘Kobani’ case. 108 HDP officials, including Demirtaş, will go on trial, which is expected to start on 26 April 2021.

Turkey should comply with the judgement of the ECtHR and release Selahattin Demirtaş immediately.

Yours truly,

[Your name]

[Your e-mail address]

[Your postal address]

[Your postcode]

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