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Turkey must comply with European Court of Human Rights ruling and immediately release Selahattin Demirtaş


21 Jan 2021


Global Europe

On the initiative of the Socialists and Democrats, the European Parliament is set to adopt today a resolution calling on Turkey to immediately release Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey, who has been in arbitrary detention since November 2016.

Demirtaş has been detained for more than four years on unsubstantiated terrorism-related charges, in spite of two binding rulings in favour of his release by the European Court of Human Rights. The Turkish government still refuses to release Demirtaş and on 7 January the Turkish court accepted a new indictment against him and 107 other people calling for 38 counts of life sentences.

S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs Kati Piri MEP said:

“Selahattin Demirtaş, the former People's Democratic Party co-chair and a tireless voice against Erdogan’s authoritarianism, has been in pre-trial detention for more than 1,500 days on completely bogus charges. He has been ripped away from his family and friends for over four years now.

“The ruling of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, which ordered his immediate release on 22 December, came as a surprise to absolutely no one: Demirtaş’ detention is based on solely political motives.

“As a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey is obliged to ensure the prompt implementation of this ruling. Instead of releasing him, Turkey slapped an additional political indictment on Demirtaş and 107 others just days later.

“It is time we start to apply pressure that Erdogan understands. The Turkish foreign minister’s visit to Brussels tomorrow is useless if there is only talk and no action from the side of the authorities. With political prisoners like Demirtaş and Osman Kavala in jail, there can be no improvement in relations.

“The S&D Group expects all EU capitals to be vocal. The HDP party represents 6 million people in Turkey. Their leaders, their MPs, their mayors and their activists have all been thrown in jail. It is high time the European Union spoke up for the rights of Turkey’s citizens.”