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Travel ban on mayor poses risk for his life

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News | 10/18/2011 12:00:00 AM | ÇAĞLA PINAR TUNÇEL

The mayor of Sur Municipality in the eastern province of Diyarbakır is suffering from a serious disease and was advised by doctors to receive medical care abroad

The mayor of Sur Municipality in the eastern province of Diyarbakır is suffering from a serious disease and was advised by doctors to receive medical care abroad. But Sur Mayor Abdullah Demirbaş is not allowed to leave Turkey due to the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) case.

Demirbaş, who is very popular for multilingual municipal services, is on trial in the case against the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He was arrested Dec. 24, 2009 and convicted due to the accusations. His previous illness has worsened because of prison conditions.

After Dicle University Medical Faculty released a report saying, “Abdullah Demirbaş has critical conditions,” the court released him pending trial on April 5, 2010.

Istanbul University Medical Hospital, Çapa Medical Faculty and Diyarbakır Training and Research Hospital diagnosed his disease as “hereditary vein thrombosis” and warned that without treatment, it could grow worse every day. The universities suggested that Demirbaş should receive treatment abroad, but he cannot seek treatment because of his travel ban.

“I have applied to the court four times, but our applications have been denied regarding the suspicion of attempt to escape. In order to suspend the travel ban, President Abdullah Gül or Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin could use initiative for this case,” Demirbaş told the Hürriyet Daily News on Oct. 17.

The mayor also noted that the court might decide in his favor.

A new campaign called “Freedom to Demirbaş” has been launched on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook urging officials to lift the ban. The mayor said the social media campaign has been very successful so far.

“The head of the local administration of the Council of Europe and the head of Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Commission called me on the issue,” Demirbaş said.

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