Freedom for Ecevit Piroğlu demanded in front of Serbian embassy in Berlin

Freedom for Ecevit Piroğlu was demanded in front of the Serbian embassy in Berlin. The Kurdish internationalist is being held illegally and arbitrarily in Serbian custody and is threatened with extradition to Turkey.

Freedom for Ecevit Piroğlu was demanded in front of the Serbian embassy in Berlin. The Voice of Prisoners (TSP) platform organized the action. The ongoing detention of the Kurdish internationalist from Turkey is illegal and arbitrary and the result of "dirty negotiations" between the governments in Ankara and Belgrade, said an activist from the platform, adding that "he must be released immediately."

Ecevit Piroğlu was first arrested in June 2021 following an extradition request from the Turkish authorities. The extradition proceedings were finally discontinued in May 2023 after the Belgrade Court of Appeal ruled that he could not be extradited to Turkey. After being released, Piroğlu was arrested again in January this year. He is currently being held in a deportation center in Padinska Skela - despite the rejection of the Turkish extradition request. This is because there is an order from the Serbian Ministry of the Interior to leave the country immediately. However, his detention is a violation of the guidelines of the UN Committee against Torture, Serbian law and previous court rulings.

The Serbian judiciary has nevertheless ignored Piroğlu's request to leave the country voluntarily. According to the TSP, there is a well-founded fear that he is still threatened with deportation to Turkey or that his detention could last indefinitely. The platform, which was supported at the rally in front of the Serbian embassy by members of the Kurdish association Nav-Berlin, the Confederation of Workers from Turkey in Europe (ATIF) and Young Struggle, also expressed concern about Piroğlu's health.

Ecevit Piroğlu went on hunger strike during the extradition proceedings in June 2022 and lost thirty kilos in 136 days. After the Supreme Court finally suspended the extradition proceedings, he ended the resistance. On 12 February, he resumed the hunger strike. "Ecevit Piroğlu is very weak. Since he has been on hunger strike again, his already poor condition has deteriorated massively. Nevertheless, he is not receiving adequate medical care. We fear for the life of our friend and call on the state of Serbia to respect the law and release Ecevit immediately," said the platform spokesman.

Who is Ecevit Piroğlu?

Ecevit Piroğlu was born in 1974 in the central Anatolian city of Kırşehir. He originally comes from the Alevi-Kurdish province of Erzincan. Politicized in the student movement of the 1990s, he later spent some time as a board member of the internationally known human rights association IHD, which has been denouncing torture in prison, police violence at demonstrations and the "disappearance" of left-wing and Kurdish people in Turkey for decades. Piroğlu was imprisoned several times due to his political activities.

As an active participant in the Gezi uprising in 2013 and an executive of the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP), he was increasingly targeted by the government. In June 2013, a state "revenge operation" took place against the SDP because of its leading role in Gezi, and the headquarters in Istanbul were raided by paramilitary special police units. Piroğlu was among the 74 people who were brutally arrested at the time. Many of those affected were later sentenced to long prison terms in the so-called "Revolutionary Headquarters" trial ("Devrimci Karargah").

Fought against ISIS in Rojava

In view of the arrests and massive persecution of its leaders, the SDP was forced to disband in 2015. That same year, Piroğlu decided to leave Turkey to avoid a decades-long prison sentence. He went to Rojava and joined the fight against the Islamic State. In June 2021, he traveled to Serbia to apply for political asylum and was arrested at Belgrade airport. The reason for the arrest was the Interpol system, which Turkey systematically uses as a tool to punish its political opponents abroad. Ankara has Piroğlu on its "Red List" of most wanted "terrorists" and a bounty of ten million TL has been placed on his head. He faces at least thirty years in prison.