A Turkish court on Dec. 14 sentenced Rojda Nazlıer, former co-mayor of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) for the southeastern province of Diyarbakır's Kocaköy district, to nine years in jail over terrorism charges, Mezopotamya news agency reported.
Nazlıer was arrested in October of 2019, after Turkish authorities accused her of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and dismissed her from office. Her duties had been handed to a government appointee.
During the final hearing of the case on Dec. 14 at the 11th Diyarbakır Heavy Penal Court, Nazlıer's lawyer Resul Temur said that they dispute the prosecutors' indictment and that the testimonies of secret witnesses were taken unlawfully. Temur said that the case file lacks credible evidence and branded the case as the government's “operation to take political revenge” on the HDP.
Lawyer Diyar Rükneddin Çetedir said that Nazlıer's attendance to the publicity meeting of HDP co-mayors was considered as “evidence” in the case file, but the relevant meeting had no “criminal element.”
Çetedir said that Nazlıer's attendance to Newroz celebrations had been also regarded as a “criminal evidence,” whereas these celebrations took place within the authorization of the government, and therefore cannot be considered as a “crime.”
The court dismissed the lawyers' statement that the “evidence” against Nazlıer had been collected “in an unlawful way," and sentenced the former co-mayor to nine years in jail for “being a member of a terror group.” On accusations that she has a “tendency to commit a crime,” the court did not reduce Nazlıer's sentence.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government accuse the HDP of having links to the PKK, leading to prosecutions of thousands of its members and some leaders.
The former co-leaders of the HDP have both been jailed since 2016 on terrorism charges, with several other prominent members accused of supporting terrorism.
Critics describe the crackdown on the party as a move of Erdoğan to further consolidate his grip on power by marginalizing leftist Kurds and strengthening his Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s ties to the nationalist National Movement Party (MHP).