The Social Democracy Foundation (SODEV) has given its “Human Rights, Democracy, Peace and Solidarity Award” for 2019 to the jailed former co-leader of Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş.
Demirtaş's wife, Başak Demirtaş, received the award on her husband's behalf during a ceremony held in Istanbul on Jan. 10. Demirtaş has been jailed since November 2016 on terror-related charges.
SODEV is a civil society organization from Turkey which strives to make positive contributions directly to the lives and democratic participation of disadvantaged groups. It works for the prevention of discrimination, the multiplication of participation channels to deepen democracy and the empowerment of all but especially of the disadvantaged groups in order to increase equal opportunities.
The Jan. 10-dated ceremony was attended by many politicians as well as representatives of various rights groups and associations, including HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan, HDP group deputy chair Saruhan Oluç, HDP MP Filiz Kerestecioğlu, CHP MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) chair Arzu Çerkezoğlu and Human Rights Association (İHD)'s Istanbul office head Gülseren Yoleri, Mezopotamya news agency reported.
SODEV president Ertan Aksoy said that they were pleased to give this prestigious award to Demirtaş, who “is paying a price for the improvement of the peace and democracy in the country.”
Aksoy said that Demirtaş's wow back in 2015 (when was the HDP co-chair) that he would not support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's plans to shift the country to an executive presidential system was one of the factors that put him in jail.
“He has been in jail for over three years. The decision to keep him jailed violates the decision of the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights]. We cannot give this award to him personally since he is not with us right now; we are giving it to his wife Başak Demirtaş on his behalf,” he said.
Başak Demirtaş later took the stage and read Selahattain Demirtaş's message from the Edirne F-Type High Security Prison. Demirtaş thanked SODEV for the award, vowing to continue to struggle for democracy and human rights. “Such a solidarity [from SODEV] that comes amid the attempts of the ruling power's mouthpieces to defame and lynch me and my friends with lies and slanders through the partisan media, is very precious. No one should doubt that despite all campaigns to wear me out and discredit me, I will continue my struggle without taking a single step back,” Demirtaş said.
“Be assured that sunny, blue days are soon to come. Like [Persian poet and prose writer] Saadi Shirazi said, 'Those who build their palace on a decaying foundation, they are to demolish it just as they are building it.' I believe that a good future is very near. Palaces and sultanates will of course collapse,” Demirtaş said.