Demirtas hospitalized days after falling ill in prison: lawyer

Selahattin Demirtas, the jailed former leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been hospitalized, almost a week after fainting in his cell, his lawyer on Monday announced on social media.

The 46-year-old politician’s lawyer and sister, Aygul Demirtas, indicated in a tweet that her brother was sent to a hospital for a check-up on Monday, six days after falling ill on November 26.

She claimed that Demirtas was barred by Turkish authorities from receiving immediate medical treatment for experiencing chest pain and trouble breathing, which caused him to lose consciousness.

The prison doctor last week asked Demirtas to be referred to the hospital for examination by cardiology, neurology and gastroenterology experts, but his demand was not met, she noted.

“They want to turn Selahattin Demirtas’ situation as a political hostage to one that involves intervention on his right to life. We don’t even want to think about the possibility of a tiniest deterioration in his health condition,” she said hours before he was taken to the hospital.

An announcement made by the chief public prosecutor’s office of Turkey’s western province of Edirne, where Demirtas is being held, said that the politician was examined by doctors who arrived after the prison called emergency services last week.

The statement added that initial tests had not indicated any health problems and the prison authorities, therefore, made appointments at a hospital so that more detailed tests can be conducted to identify Demirtas’ illness.

“During this process, he was able to meet his family and visitors as a routine procedure. His past requests for doctor visits at different times in the past have also been fulfilled,” the office further said.

Later on the same day, his lawyer also announced that the pro-Kurdish leader was sent to a hospital, adding that the detailed tests conducted on Monday showed that there is nothing life-threatening about his medical condition.

According to a report by Haci Biskin from Gazete Duvar news portal, HDP lawmakers Erol Katircioglu and Necdet Ipekyuz have visited Demirtas in prison and talked to him about his current health condition.

“He said, let my people know that I had this illness [before being jailed]. He said that it worsened under prison conditions and that it has to be treated. He also does not know what his illness exactly is,” Gazete Duvar on Monday quoted Katircioglu as saying.

The MP added that Demirtas told him the conditions of his prison are not good and he has no chance to receive immediate treatment if it happens to be necessary since the prison authorities have to initially get permission from the Justice Ministry to sent him to a hospital.

Meanwhile, the HDP Co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli on Monday held a press conference and called on Turkey’s Justice Ministry to immediately make a statement about the current health condition and treatment of Demirtas.

“Why was Demirtas not referred to a hospital immediately after falling ill [last week]?” they questioned.

The co-chairs announced that a delegation of HDP’s senior members will visit Demirtas in prison.

Turkey’s main opposition secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) also declared that they will send a delegation of lawmakers to visit the pro-Kurdish politician in Edirne on Tuesday.

The pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency (MA) also reported that Turkish police late on Monday detained five protesters in Istanbul who were demanding Demirtas’ release along with that of other political prisoners.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuses the HDP of having connections to the Kurdish separatists in the country known as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long armed struggle against the Turkish state.

Selahattin Demirtas, one of Turkey’s best-known politicians, has been in prison for over three years on a number of offenses that include terror-related ones. Although the pro-Kurdish politician denies the charges against him, he faces 142 years in prison if found guilty in the main case.

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