Former HDP mayor acquitted of terrorism charges levied last year

A Turkish court has acquitted former Diyarbakır mayor Selçuk Mızraklı of charges of spreading terror propaganda in a case brought by prosecutors in April 2020. Since Mızraklı is serving time in another case stemming from similar charges levied in 2019, he will not be released from jail.

Duvar English

A Turkish court has acquitted former mayor of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, Selçuk Mızraklı, of charges stemming from a 2020 case that accused him of “making terrorist organization propaganda.”

However, as Mızraklı is currently serving time in another case, he will not be released.

Mızraklı, from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), was removed from office on Aug. 19, 2019. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested and has been in prison since. 

On March 9, 2020, he was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison on charges of "being a member of a terrorist organization.”

While Mızraklı was serving time for alleged membership in the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Ankara prosecutors in April 2020 filed new charges against the former mayor, this time accusing him of “making terrorist organization propaganda.”

The new charges concerned Mızraklı's attendance to six events as well as his social media posts Ramin Hossein Penahi, a Kurdish activist executed in Iran.

The new indictment cited Mızraklı's participation in HDP meetings, an HDP-organized conference on the crises in the Middle East, a condolences ceremony, and his support for a hunger strike by former HDP lawmaker Leyla Güven as “evidence” for the charges.

The final hearing of the case took place on Sept. 29 at the Ankara 28th Heavy Penal Court.

Mızraklı, incarcerated in a prison in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, connected to the court via with audio-visual information system SEGBİS, Mezopotamya News Agency reported.

Mızraklı said that Turkey is going through a period that sees democratic rights and freedoms worsening every day. “If the people of this country do not say 'stop' to this, as is the case now, we would wait from the news for a piece of good news to appear...Turkey has become a country that has been seeing its democracy weakening for many years now,” the former mayor said.

Mızraklı's lawyer Şevin Kaya said the events referred to in the indictment are the official activities of the HDP.

As for the condolences ceremony, Kaya said: “Which of the article of the Turkish Penal Code makes participation in a condolences ceremony a crime? We do not know.”

The court ruled that the accusations levied against Mızraklı did not constitute “terrorist organization propaganda” and said that Mızraklı's participation in the three-day hunger strike for Leyla Güven was within the freedom of expression.

Since March 2019 local elections, several mayors of the HDP have been replaced by trustees by the Interior Ministry.

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK, leading to the prosecutions of thousands of its members and some leaders. The HDP denies such links.