The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçaroğlu on July 26 called for the immediate release of philanthropist Osman Kavala and renowned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş.
“Selahattin Demirtaş is unjustly imprisoned, he is a political prisoner. It is my greatest wish for not only him but also Osman Kavala to be released as soon as possible. Judicial decisions regarding their release must be implemented,” Kılıçdaroğlu told journalist Murat Sabuncu from news portal T24 in an interview.
Kavala, who has been in jail for nearly five years, has been convicted of attempting to overthrow the government and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in April despite the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling for his immediate release.
The Council of Europe (CoE) has recently launched "infringement proceedings" against Turkey which could lead to the country's suspension from the body, of which it is a founding member.
Demirtaş, on the other hand, has been in prison since 2016. He faces hundreds of years in prison on charges related to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) despite a previous ECHR ruling that he was imprisoned on political grounds and should be released immediately.
Both Kavala and Demirtaş are seen as a threat by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The president accuses Kavala of being the “Turkish leg” of billionaire U.S. philanthropist George Soros, while he calls Demirtaş a “terrorist.”
It is known that terror charges in Turkey often target dissidents as a way to quash politicians, civil-society activists, journalists as thousands of them remain in prison without any concrete evidence.
Kılıçdaroğlu also expressed in the interview that he supports Demirtaş’s latest remarks calling on the PKK to fully disarm and give up its armed struggle against the Turkish state.
Kılıçdaroğlu also rejected the arguments that "conservative people do not vote for the CHP or its candidate” and stated that this “old perception” is “largely deconstructed,” if not totally.
“What conservatives especially focus on is that justice is ensured in the state administration. They also know that the state's religion is justice. That's why it's wrong to argue that a just person would not vote for a party that defends justice," Kılıçdaroğlu said.