Turkish civil registration office refuses to renew Demirtaş's ID card for 'smiling in photo'

A Turkish civil registration office has refused to renew former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş's identity card on the grounds that the renowned politician was “smiling” in the submitted photo, his wife Başak Demirtaş said on May 24.

Duvar English

A Turkish civil registration office has refused to renew former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş's identity card for smiling in the submitted photograph, the renowned politician's wife Başak Demirtaş said on May 24.

Başak Demirtaş shared a new photo of the politician from the prison and wrote on Twitter: “This photo is a representative [of the submitted photo], but the smile is real.”

She said that she was allowed to see Demirtaş after a long period of time and that he was in good health. 

Demirtaş, one of Turkey’s most prominent politicians who has been in jail for over four years, could face a life sentence if convicted in the main case against him related to 2014 protests in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

In December 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called for his immediate release, saying the justification for his pre-trial detention was a cover for limiting pluralism and debate.

The Grand Chamber of the ECHR said Demirtaş had his rights violated under five different categories, including freedom of expression and liberty.

Demirtaş's lawyers called the ruling “historic” and several Western allies and human rights groups urged Ankara to act. But while such rulings are legally binding, Turkey has not implemented them in several past instances.