Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s doctor has urged his patient to be released from prison, saying his health problems make him vulnerable against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Unfortunately, Demirtaş suffers from hypertension and a chronic respiratory tract disease, which pose the biggest risks in the face of COVID-19,” doctor Cegerxun Polat told Duvar.

Demirtaş, who was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 on charges linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was hospitalized late last year after suffering from chest tightness and inability to breathe.

“Demirtaş is among one of the groups that’s under highest risk. Prison conditions bear major risks in terms of getting infected. The location of Demirtaş’s cell, its conditions and its distance to the healthcare area increase these risks,” Polat said.

“Demirtaş underwent surgery over his chronic respiratory tract disease before he was arrested. His complaints are ongoing. After he was arrested, he was diagnosed with hypertension and has been using medicine for nearly three years,” he added.

The doctor also pointed to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca’s statements on people suffering from hypertension being under risk of getting infected by the coronavirus.

Saying that the country is experiencing extraordinary days, Polat noted that there would be no harm in releasing prisoners.

“Demirtaş and other prisoners must be released based on the right to life. These people suffer from illnesses and they have human rights stemming from that,” he said.

Demirtaş’s lawyers, meanwhile, filed an application for Demirtaş’s release on April 2.