Social media campaign calls for release of jailed Kurdish leader 

A social media campaign demanding the release of Selahattin Demirtas, the jailed former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has been launched by his supporters, the Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Tuesday.

Kicking off the campaign by the Free Demirtas Initiative was a social media which included a photograph of Sadiye Demirtas, the imprisoned politician’s mother, holding a paper sheet that read “#freeDemirtas”.

Demirtas, who has been in prison since November 4, 2016, is accused of making propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) among other terror-related charges.

Classified by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization, PKK is an armed group that has waged an insurgency in mainly Kurdish-populated southeastern Turkey since 1984.

A Turkish court approved the politician’s sentence of four years and eight months in prison on charges of “making propaganda for an armed terrorist organization” in December 2018.

Having already served three years since 2016, Demirtas faces a sentence of 142 years in prison if convicted on the rest of the charges.

In reference to pro-Kurdish leader’s co-chair Figen Yuksekdag and thousands of other HDP members awaiting trial in jails, those who participated in the social media campaign also used the hashtag “#FreeThemAll”.

European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri, Hamburg State Federal Parliament MP Cansu Ozdemir, German Green MP Cem Ozdemir, and German Die Linke’s Co-chair Katja Kipping were among those who supported the campaign to free former HDP co-chair.

In July 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Demirtas’ conviction for a speech he gave in 2005 was a violation of the politician’s right to free speech.

However, Turkish courts have not implemented that decision and a court ruled for the continuation of his arrest a few days after the ECHR ruling.

The next hearing of the pro-Kurdish politician’s case at the ECHR will be held on September 18.

Pro-Kurdish parties call for co-operation and “politics of peace”

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