Demirtas salutes those demanding release of Turkey’s political prisoners

Selahattin Demirtas, the imprisoned former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has welcomed a recently launched social media campaign calling for the release of Turkey’s political prisoners, including himself.

His supporters who call themselves “the Free Demirtas Initiative,” on Tuesday launched a social media campaign where users demanded the release of Demirtas and other HDP members currently in jail by posting photos of themselves with the hashtags “#freeDemirtas” and “#FreeThemAll”.

After visiting him in jail on Friday, his wife Basak Demirtas conveyed a message of his through a video posted on her Twitter account.

In the video, she states that he is in very good health and that his morale is also very good. She added: “He extended his greetings and thanks to all those who demanded freedom for political prisoners.”

Demirtas has been in prison since November 4, 2016, and is blamed for making propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as other terror-related offenses.

The PKK, an armed militant group that has waged an insurgency in mainly Kurdish-populated southeastern Turkey since the 1980s, is regarded by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization.

His arrest came after the withdrawal of the immunity of 112 Members of Parliament in 2016, by the Turkish parliament’s general assembly over more than 500 dossiers.

The former pro-Kurdish HDP co-leader, who has already spent three years in prison, faces a sentence of 142 years in the event that he is convicted on the rest of the charges.

In December 2018, a Turkish court approved his sentence of four years and eight months in jail due to “making propaganda for an armed terrorist organization.”

Although the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in July 2019 that his conviction over a speech he gave in 2005 violated the right to free speech, Turkish courts have not heeded the ECHR verdict.

Days after the ECHR ruling, a Turkish court decided that his detention should be continued.

Demirtas’ case’s next hearing at the ECHR will be held on September 18.

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