Kurdish deputies kept hostage for two years

Two years ago, eleven HDP deputies were arrested in Turkey. After two years of imprisonment, the European Court of Human Rights is now to decide.

On 4 November, eleven deputies of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested in Turkey. In the middle of the night, party leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, as well as Nursel Aydoğan, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Selma Irmak, Ziya Pir, Ferhat Encü, Gülser Yıldırım, İdris Baluken, Leyla Birlik and İmam Taşçıer were brought out of their homes. While Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Ziya Pir and İmam Taşçıer were later released against mandatory reporting, others were remanded in custody after their parliamentary immunity was lifted. Since then, they have been in custody in various prisons in Turkey.

Attorney Reyhan Yalçındağ belongs to the defense team of detained former deputies. Since all legal remedies in Turkey have been exhausted, the case has been brought before the European Court of Human Rights. As the lawyer explains, from the point of view of the defense team, five articles of the European Convention on Human Rights have been violated, including the right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and organization, and the right to vote and stand for election. The lawyers demand compensation and the lifting of arrest warrants. In the case of Selahattin Demirtaş, Figen Yüksekdağ, Nihat Akdoğan, Abdullah Zeydan, Selma Irmak, İdris Baluken, Ferhat Encü, Gülser Yıldırım and Çağlar Demirel, the verdict of the ECHR is pending.

Reyhan Yalçındağ assesses the arrests as a measure against the then emerging "hope for a democratic solution". In the course of November 4, out of 104 Kurdish local governments 96 were placed under compulsory administration, the lawyer states: "53 mayors and nine HDP MPs are still in prison."

According to Reyhan Yalçındağ, a ‘law of animosity’ is being implemented against Kurdish politicians. "They are being detained as a result of activities that are not punished in criminal law. That's why we speak of a ‘law of animosity’. For example, Idris Baluken has been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for speeches at public events. These speeches had no content other than what he held as a Member of Parliament."