Imprisoned former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has been granted the ‘Political Courage Award’ that is given for the first time by Institut François Mitterand, which was founded in the name of the former French president. Demirtaş sent a letter to the awards ceremony to which HDP member Hişyar Özsoy participated on behalf of Demirtaş.
In the letter, Demirtaş accepted the award on behalf of all HDP supporters in prisons. In his letter, Demirtaş said, “For me and for millions of Kurds, there are actually two Mitterrands, François Mitterrand and Danielle Mitterrand. I respectfully commemorate both valuable personalities who left a mark in our memories and made a great contribution to European values."
"As it is known, despite the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, I cannot be there with you because I am still in prison. I believe that this great lawlessness that erodes European values will come to an end one day” according to reporting by Mezopotamya News Agency.
The head of the institute and former foreign affairs minister Hubert Védrine expressed that the award should be considered as a political and symbolic support to the ongoing struggle of Demirtaş and HDP.
The institute wrote a letter addressed to Demirtaş, as well. “This award aims to honor a French or foreign person or organization for their activities by gathering democratic people with the most humble purposes. The award jury was impressed by your tenacity, courage and dedication. We hope this award will help you overcome your imprisonment, quickly regain your freedom, and continue your fight for democracy and social justice,” the letter read.
Demirtaş has been in prison since 2016 despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision saying he needed to be released. When asked about decisions, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously said: "We do not recognize decisions taken by the European Union regarding [philanthropist Osman] Kavala, Demirtaş and so on.”
Demirtaş got 8.40% of all votes in the last presidential election in 2018 despite being behind jail bars. Last month, he was also granted the Weimar Human Rights Award.