The Turkish government continued its efforts to criminalize the Kurdish political movement with a view to weakening the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third political party in Turkey according to the results of the 2018 parliamentary elections. Turkey’s highest court accepted in June an indictment aimed at disbanding the HDP.
Party offices have also come under physical attack, including in June in the western province of Izmir, where a gunman shot and killed party member Deniz Poyraz.
The charismatic former leader of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş, remained behind bars for political reasons despite the decisions of the Turkish Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Dozens of former HDP politicians are also in jail, either on remand or serving sentences after being convicted of terrorist offenses based on non-violent political activities, speeches and publications on social networks.
According to the interior ministry, Ankara has ousted a total of 151 elected mayors from office on terrorism charges in the past six years, almost all of them from the HDP, replacing them with government-appointed bureaucrats. Speaking at a session of the Turkish Parliament’s Planning and Budget Committee in Ankara, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu noted in the last two municipal terms – 2014-2019 and from 2019 – 73 of the 151 mayors removed from office were sentenced to a total of 778 years in prison.
State-appointed administrators now administer almost all cities in southeastern Turkey.
Here are some of the most important news of 2021 regarding the ongoing crackdown on the Kurdish political movement:
Turkey’s highest court accepts indictment to dissolve pro-Kurdish party
Turkey’s Constitutional Court on June 21 accepted the indictment of a top prosecutor seeking to dissolve a pro-Kurdish opposition party on terrorism-related charges.
The court ruled in favor of hearing the case against the HDP, filed by the public prosecutor, who accuses it of alleged collusion with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and seeking to “destroy the unity of the state”. Following..
Turkish justice continues to target former HDP leaders
An Ankara court in January accepted an indictment naming 108 people, including jailed Kurdish leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who have been behind bars on political charges since November 2016, in connection with street protests in southeast of the country in 2014 which claimed the lives of 37 people. Following..
In March, a court sentenced Demirtaş to three years and six months in prison for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Following..
In April, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a prison sentence of four years and eight months handed down to Demirtaş for a speech he gave at a Nevruz celebration in Istanbul on March 17, 2013. . More..
In May, an Ankara court sentenced Demirtaş to two years and six months in prison for “targeting officials involved in counter-terrorism efforts” over his criticism of the government. Ankara’s former chief prosecutor, Yüksel Kocaman, in his defense statement during a trial. Following..
Turkish parliament expelled pro-Kurdish lawmaker known for human rights activism
In March, Turkey’s parliament expelled HDP lawmaker and prominent human rights defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu after a controversial conviction for a social media post. Gergerlioğlu was then sent to prison and released in July after a decision by the Turkish Constitutional Court and sent back to parliament. Following..
Woman killed in attack on pro-Kurdish party office in Turkey
In June, an assailant killed Deniz Poyraz, a party official, in an attack on a provincial office of the HDP in the province of Izmir. Following..
In July, a lone gunman staged an attack on the HDP’s district office in the Turkish resort town of Marmaris. The same office was attacked only a few weeks later, with a man breaking its windows. Following..
Appeals court upholds 22-year sentence imposed on former Kurdish MP Güven
A Diyarbakır appeals court in June upheld a prison sentence of 22 years and three months on terrorism charges against former Kurdish lawmaker Leyla Güven, ousted from the Turkish parliament in June 2020. She was also co-chair of the Democratic society. Congress (DTK), umbrella group of the Kurdish political movement. Following..
Güven was also sentenced to five years by a Hakkari court in November for disseminating propaganda in support of a terrorist organization. Following..
Former HDP MP Aysel Tuğluk sentenced to 20 months in prison for spreading “terrorist propaganda”
A court in Van province sentenced Aysel Tuğluk, the former HDP deputy co-chair, to 20 months in prison in October for disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization. She is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for acting as the leader of a terrorist organization and taking orders from Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a listed armed secessionist group. as a terrorist organization. by Turkey, the EU and the United States. Following..
Tuğluk, who was denied release in September despite medical reports, suffers from dementia and cannot take care of herself, according to her lawyer Reyhan Yalçındağ. Following..
The European Court of Rights has issued verdicts in the cases of Kurdish politicians
In February, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) delivered its verdict in the case of 10 politicians from the People’s Democracy Party (HADEP), now closed, 14 years after the case was been brought before her. The court said Turkey violated the plaintiffs’ right to freedom of assembly and association. Following..
In May, the European Court of Human Rights fined Turkey for violating the freedom of expression of Filiz Kerestecioğlu, an HDP MP, by lifting her parliamentary immunity on the basis of a constitutional amendment adopted in 2016. More…
Turkey’s highest court fines government for torturing Kurdish party chairman in police custody
In February, Turkey’s highest court ruled in favor of İbrahim Halil Baran, president of the Kurdistan Partiya Kurdistani (PAKURD), who filed an individual petition with the court in 2017, claiming he had been tortured by police in custody in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa. Following..
Police, not PKK, killed Tahir Elçi, Forensic Architecture investigation reveals
An indictment relating to the murder of prominent human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi who accuses a Kurdish activist of murder is unrealistic, according to an investigation published by Forensic Architecture, a London-based multidisciplinary research group , in March. Following..
Remains of 261 suspected PKK members buried near sewer pipe not returned to families, opposition MP says
The remains of 261 suspected PKK members who were removed from Garzan cemetery in Bitlis province in December 2017 were buried in a mass grave next to a sewer line in an Istanbul cemetery and were not not returned to their families, HDP MK Hüda Kaya said in April. . Following..
Erdoğan didn’t let PKK lay down arms, jailed Kurdish leader says
Imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş has claimed that President Erdoğan did not allow the PKK to lay down their arms after reconciliation efforts between his government and the group because he believed that an end to the armed conflict in the country would only benefit not politically to his government. Following..
A member of the pro-Kurdish party kidnapped and tortured by men posing as police
Celalettin Yalçın, a member of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), was abducted and tortured in August by individuals who identified themselves as “the police” of Istanbul. Following..
German police tell ex-MP he is on list of targets targeting critics of government in exile
German federal police have warned Hasip Kaplan, a former HDP lawmaker, of a planned assassination targeting him based on a blacklist that includes the names of 55 Turkish government critics living in exile. Following..
Books of Kurdish leader Demirtaş exposed among criminal ‘evidence’ seized in police raid
Three books written by Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş – ‘Leylan’, ‘Devran’ and ‘Seher’ – were displayed among the criminal ‘evidence’ seized during a November police raid. Following..