PES delegation urges release of Yüksekdağ and all political prisoners

13/04/2017

Zita Gurmai in Turkey

Representatives from the Party of European Socialists are in Turkey to press for the immediate release of Figen Yüksekdağ, co-chair of our member party Halkların Demokratik Partisi (People's Democratic Party, HDP).

Ms Yüksekdağ was imprisoned last year along with a large number of political opponents of Turkish president Erdogan. The charge is one of “terrorist propaganda”, a charge only made possible by the state of emergency in place since last summer following a decree of President Erdogan.

PES Women president Zita Gurmai today leads a delegation from the PES to attend Ms Yüksekdağ’s trial. The delegation also includes representatives from our member party in Sweden, and is hosted by representatives of the HDP.

We also continue to campaign for the release of all political prisoners, the restoration of full rule of law, the constitutional separation of powers and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey.

PES Women president Zita Gurmai said:

“A strong democracy should not be afraid of pluralism. And membership of a political party is not a crime, it is part of democracy – something that Ms Yüksekdağ and the HDP have always defended in Turkey.

 “As the only female co-chair in the parliament, the imprisonment of Figen Yüksekdağ and her exclusion from the political arena constitutes an unacceptable attack on women’s political representation in particular and appears to be a strategic attempt to silence opposition to Erdogan’s authoritarian government.

“As a progressive party, the PES has strongly supported the HDP in recent months. We will continue for as long as necessary to make representations to Turkey about this unacceptable situation, to draw international attention to what is happening in the country, and to fight for the restoration of full democracy.

“I am also deeply concerned by the health and human rights situation of a hundred politically imprisoned persons who have been on hunger strike in response to inhuman conditions and gross human rights violations in prison. The authorities must act to ensure their immediate release.”

The visit comes a few days ahead of a controversial referendum in Turkey, in which President Erdogan seeks to consolidate more power in his own office, potentially changing the country from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential republic. Both the PES member parties HDP and CHP are campaigning for a NO vote in the referendum.

Delegation members

  • Zita Gurmai, PES Women
  • Katja Ziska, PES Women
  • Yilmaz Kerimo, SAP Sweden
  • Anders Österburg, SAP Sweden