Jailed Demirtas says HDP will continue democracy struggle with Turkey’s opposition

Jailed ex-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) says the HDP is determined to continue its democracy struggle with all other members of the country’s opposition, the pro-Kurdish Rudaw news agency reported on Monday.

Selahattin Demirtas, 46, who has been incarcerated in Turkey since November 2016, made the statement in a letter that was read out in Stockholm by HDP’s Deputy Chairman Hisyar Ozsoy during an event in Stockholm where Demirtas’ wife, Basak Demirtas, received the 2019 Progressive Alliance Award for special political courage on his behalf.

“I have no doubt that the tens of millions of people who resist the increasing oppression in Turkey every day will gain democracy sooner or later. … We are determined to continue our struggle [for democracy] as HDP along with all other opposition members,” Demirtas wrote.


The 46-year old Demirtas, who faces up to 142 years imprisonment over various charges, including allegations that he is linked to a terrorist organization. He remains behind bars despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights for his immediate release in 2018.

“Solidarity and international collaboration are vitally important in the face of incredible insanities of the existing order that threatens human life in its entirety. … Even though I’m in a jail cell, I want you to know that my heart beats with you,” Demirtas wrote.

The former HDP leader emphasized that the task for socialists, social democrats, and all other progressive forces was to find creative solutions for wars, displacements, massacres against women and children, all kinds of racism, poverty and merciless terrorism targeting civilians.

The Germany-based Progressive Alliance encompasses over 130 organizations that include the Party of European Socialists (PES) and the Group of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

His letter also referred to the other HDP members who are currently in prison on terror-related charges, including the party’s former co-leader Figen Yuksekdag, and stated that the Turkish government keeps them, like himself, behind bars as “political hostages.”

“Despite all the oppression [in Turkey], we resist this tyranny with all the power we have, without making compromises from the principles and truths we believe in. While carrying out this struggle, we take courage from our people’s hope and demand for a free and honorable life,” he added.

Demirtas concluded the letter by expressing that he dedicates the award he received for special political courage to all the peoples of Turkey with Kurds and Turks being in the first place.

“I accept his award also in the names of all the other political prisoners, especially my female comrades kept in Turkish prisons,” he noted.

Ankara’s crackdown on the Kurdish politicians has gained momentum after a settlement process between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) collapsed in 2015.

The Turkish government views the outlawed PKK, a group of armed Kurdish militants who have waged a separatist insurgency in Turkey since 1984, a terrorist organization.

Although the pro-Kurdish HDP denies having any links to the PKK, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the party of acting in the interests of the PKK and previously defined it as the “political extension” of the outlawed PKK.

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