HDP holds 'justice rally' in Diyarbakır
ANKARAThe Kurdish-question focused People’s Democratic Party (HDP) held a grand meeting in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır titled “Justice, Conscience and Democracy” in protest of the current state of democracy in Turkey and arrests of its lawmakers.
HDP co-leader Serpil Kemalbay, Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-leaders Leyla Güven and Berdan Öztürk attended the rally along with HDP lawmakers and representatives.
At the rally, the letter written by imprisoned former HDP co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ from Kandıra Prison was read aloud. “The campaign we have initiated saying ‘Let’s not stop ourselves, let’s stop fascism’ paved a way for justice by the hands of suppressed people, workers, laborers, youth and women. Our Justice and Conscience meetings and the meetings we have started today will have their place in history for their role against fascism,” read the letter Yüksekdağ delivered via her lawyers.
HDP co-leader Kemalbay criticized the imprisonment of HDP lawmakers regarding it as a “strike against the third biggest party in the parliament.”
“We have carried out sit-in protests in Diyarbakır, Istanbul, Van and İzmir for justice and conscience. Our protests were isolated, blocked by police barricades. We are carrying out our struggle under such conditions. We will never surrender, we will create a new life by resisting,” she said.
Criticizing the attack on the funeral of imprisoned lawmaker Aysel Tuğluk’s mother, Kemalbay said the underlying reason for the attacks are “the unlawful and inhumane steps of those who attempt political engineering.”
“We condemn those who perpetrated such attacks and those who did not resign,” she said.
HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir called out on ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli “to stop current policies.”
“Erdoğan and Bahçeli! When there is a way to heal wounds, give up on turning this country into a graveyard. The only thing they know is to rule the country with death,” Baydemir said.
Yüksekdağ’s case in Ankara
Meanwhile, the Ankara 16th Heavy Criminal Court continued a case against Yüksekdağ on Sept. 18.
The prosecutor’s office ordered 30 to 83 years of prison time from Yüksekdağ for “inciting to commit a crime” and “inciting hatred and hostility in the public.”
Being tried in more than 20 other cases against her, Yüksekdağ was already convicted for a year in one case and two other convictions are in an appeal process.
Yüksekdağ was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016, along with nine other HDP lawmakers and has been in prison ever since.
After her first conviction was finalized in February 2017, her lawmaker status was removed, “and two other convictions are in an appeal process,” she said.
Freed HDP, MP ordered to be re-arrested
In the meantime, the Diyarbakır Sixth Heavy Criminal Court ruled for the re-arrest of HDP Kars lawmaker Ayhan Bilgen, who was released from prison on Sept. 8 from the same case.
“Despite the fact that it is not in the indictment, I am imprisoned with an accusation included in the file unlawfully by the prosecutor’s office. Now, I’ll be arrested again with the unlawful wiretapping added into my file, accusing me of having relations with the Tevhid Salam organization,” Bilgen said on Sept. 18.
Bilgen was arrested on Jan. 31, 2017 and released on Sept. 8 by the court. The Diyarbakır Prosecutor’s Office objected to the release and asked for his re-arrest.
As Nursel Aydoğan and Yüksekdağ’s lawmaker statuses were removed, there are currently nine HDP lawmakers in prison on terror charges, including HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş and Bilgen.
Two other former lawmakers Faysal Sarıyıldız and Tuğba Hezer, who were also stripped of their lawmaker status following criminal charges, left Turkey in the wake of a parliamentary decision to remove lawmakers’ immunities in 2016 and have been abroad ever since.