PES mission to Turkey supports Demirtas during his first hearing in Turkish court
Today a PES delegation supported the co-chair of our Kurdish associate party HDP, Selahattin Demirtas on the day of his first court hearing, since he was jailed without legal foundation in November last year. The hearing took place in the Anadolu 34th Penal Court of First Instance in Istanbul and Demirtas testified via videoconference from the prison of Edirne.
The PES delegation, headed by PES president Sergei Stanishev and including PES deputy Secretary General Giacomo Filibeck was at the hearing and was also able to meet HDP representatives.
From the Penal Court of First Instance in Istanbul, PES president Sergei Stanishev said:
“This is a political trial. The only crime HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag have ever committed is their political activity representing their electors. Continuing this ridiculous prosecution is not dispensing justice, it is merely following the instructions of president Erdogan. The Party of European Socialists will continue its missions to support Demirtas until this issue is resolved with full respect of the rule of law in Turkey”.
Since the coup attempt last year, the Turkish government has imprisoned 43,000 people on generic allegations of ‘supporting terrorism’ and crimes against the state. When the coup took place, the PES immediately and strongly stood in favour of Turkish democracy. But the European progressives will not remain silent in the face of the repression that has followed. 80 elected co-mayors of HDP have been imprisoned along with Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ. Hundreds of HDP representatives have been arrested.
The HDP and CHP - the other PES associate party in Turkey - are campaigning for a ‘no’ vote in the upcoming referendum in mid-April on a constitutional reform which will transfer more power to the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Having a major opposition leader in jail during the campaign helps Erdogan in achieving his goal of accumulating all the power. Therefore we will support HDP and CHP in their campaign for a ‘no’ vote”, Stanishev said.
“A victory for Erdogan will transfer too much power into the hands of a single man, it will diminish the role of the government and it will undermine the role of the parliament. It is a threat for modern Turkish democracy. If Erdogan thinks he can win elections forever, there is no reason for him to persecute his political rivals.
We will stand for Turkish democracy against all attacks on the separation of powers, human rights and basic freedoms”, the PES president said.