Two main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies on Dec. 29 visited jailed former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş in the Edirne Prison in Turkey's northwest.
Deputies Ali Haydar Hakverdi and Sevda Erdoan Kılıç, both members of Turkish parliament's human rights commission, held a press statement following their visit, saying: “It is against the Turkish Penal Code, Constitution and international laws that Demirtaş is being imprisoned for more than four years. This trial and unfortunately many similar other trials have turned into a political case.”
CHP deputies said that the fact that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu have been targeting Demirtaş with statements alleging he is “a terrorist,” has been preventing the judiciary to give “an independent decision” regarding the case.
They said that several trials, including those launched against Demirtaş and philanthropist Osman Kavala, have turned into “a tool of oppression of the government against the opposition.” “This situation brings about several rights violations and takes our country backward in the world in terms of law and democracy,” they said.
The deputies also called on the government to comply with the European Court of Human Rights' (EHCR) ruling from last week which said that Demirtaş must be released immediately.
“As per the ECHR's recent ruling, the human rights violation against Demirtaş needs to be ended, the court's decision needs to be implemented, and his arrest needs to come to an end,” they said.
On the same day, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu once again slammed Erdoğan for attacking the ECHR's ruling on Demirtaş, saying there will be a “cost of this.” He recalled that Turkey has been breaching its obligations by not complying with the ECHR's rulings.
“You sign an international agreement as the state and then you say, 'I will not implement the ECHR's decision.' There will be a cost of this for Turkey. But let me say this; they [government officials] will come around and implement it. They have no other choice,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Dec. 29, while holding a meeting with a group of representatives from TV channels in Ankara.
The ECHR said on Dec. 22 that Turkey's justification for Demirtaş's detention longer than four years on terrorism-related offenses was a pretext for limiting political debate.
Erdoğan blasted the ECHR's ruling on Dec. 23 saying the court issued an "entirely political" ruling by publishing a judgment before Demirtaş had used up all his legal challenges in Turkish courts.
Erdoğan often targets Demirtaş, who has been imprisoned since Nov. 4, 2016 on charges related to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in his speeches.
Opposition members and rights groups have accused the government of pressing the judiciary to silence Erdoğan's opponents, particularly since an attempted coup in July 2016.
Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have regularly denied such charges and said courts make independent decisions.