Kurdish leader Demirtaş prosecuted on charge of humiliating Erdogan’s government, Turkish army

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Co-Chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş. File photo

ARA News

After 8 months of imprisonment by the Turkish authorities, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş is appearing in Ankara court on Friday for the third hearing of his lawsuit.

The Kurdish leader Demirtaş is being tried on charge of “public humiliation of the Turkish government, the judiciary, the military or law enforcement agency”. The charge is based on one of his social media sharing.

The following phrases are included in aforementioned social media sharing: “All armies are desperate against the people. The army of Tayyip Erdoğan’s palace has been already defeated, they will be defeated again”.

“The most fundamental foundation of the AKP government is to create an atmosphere of fear, and to make everyone feel that fear. During such periods, to feel afraid of the government and the power it wields is no doubt quite natural, and human; however, do not forget that courage, too, is human, and the only way not to pass on this fear to our children is to act with courage,” Selahattin Demirtaş said in a statement in April.

Some 5,000 HDP party officials, including 85 mayors and 13 parliamentarians, are reportedly jailed on terror charges. The crackdown went into overdrive since last July’s coup attempt against Erdogan.

The HDP informed Human Rights Watch that since the July 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, 5,471 of its party officials, including heads of provincial and district branches, had been detained, with 1,482 sent to pretrial detention.

Moreover, under emergency law, the authorities shut down many Kurdish radio stations and TV channels and banned the HDP’s campaign song, “Say No”, claiming that it incited “hatred and enmity”.

“It’s deeply damaging to Turkey’s democracy that the government is locking up the leaders and MPs of an opposition party that received five million votes in the last election,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch in late March.

“The government’s crackdown on pro-Kurdish parties is robbing millions of voters of their parliamentary representatives, and in a vast swathe of the eastern and southeastern parts of the country it is robbing voters of their local representatives as well,” Williamson added.

Also Iraqi Kurdish president Masoud Barzani in February called on the Turkish government to release the politicians.

“In the interest of peace in Turkey, it would be better for him [Demirtas] and other arrested politicians to be released,” Barzani told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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