Former co-chairs of Turkey's pro-Kurdish party mark three years in jail

It has been three years since the arrest of former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ. The imprisonment of pro-Kurdish figures is slammed by their lawyers as "political hostage taking" due to the authorities repeatedly blocking local courts' rulings for release.

Duvar English

Former co-chairs of Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) marked three years in jail on Nov. 4, as their lawyers describe the situation as "political hostage taking."

Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ were jailed on Nov. 4, 2016 alongside several other HDP deputies on terrorism charges.

Critical developments took place within last year, with one being a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) saying that Demirtaş should be freed due to being in jail for "political purposes."

A Turkish court upheld on Dec. 4, 2018 a jail term for Demirtaş over "making propaganda of a terrorist organization," hence ignoring the ECHR ruling.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed the court at the time, saying "ECHR rulings are not binding for us. We'll make our counter move and finish the job."

Although a number of local courts previously ruled for his release, new jail sentences and investigations prevent him from walking out of prison.

Demirtaş's cellmate Abdullah Zeydan, who was a former deputy, has also been in jail for three years.

Following the adoption of a judiciary reform package, a court ruled for Zeydan's release on Nov. 1, which was followed by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır objecting to the ruling.

The court subsequently accepted the objection and ruled for the continuation of Zeydan’s arrest.

A day earlier, an Istanbul court also ruled for the release of Demirtaş in a case that he faced over four years in prison.

Although a release order was issued, Demirtaş will remain in jail due to another case that his arrest was ruled.

Demirtaş sent a tweet via his lawyers on Nov. 3, saying that there is no law and justice.

"However, there is companionship, solidarity, hope and resistance. Freedom will also [come] eventually," read the tweet that featured a picture of Zeydan and Demirtaş in prison.

Yüksekdağ, meanwhile, rarely sends tweets.

'They want a world without Kurds'

The party's current co-chair Pervin Buldan, meanwhile, slammed the government for its military offensive in northern Syria and the appointment of trustees to HDP municipalities.

"We know that everything's possible through living and letting live, not killing and getting killed. The fact that Turkey sent soldiers to the area, attempted to invade it and launched this war is not acceptable," Buldan said on Nov. 3, as she added that the government wants to create a "world without Kurds."

"No balance or equation can be formed without the Kurds in this geography," she also said.

The HDP is the only party to object to Turkey's military incursion.