PACE president calls on Turkey to release former HDP co-chair Demirtaş
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) President Liliane Maury Pasquier on Nov. 22 called on Turkey to release Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Pasquier’s statement came after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Nov. 20 urged Turkey to swiftly process Demirtaş’s legal case, saying his pre-trial detention had gone on longer than could be justified. The ECHR also criticized Turkey for keeping Demirtaş detained during this year’s presidential elections.
Recalling the ECHR’s findings that the extensions of Demirtaş’s detention “had pursued the predominant ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate,” Pasquier said she hoped for the speedy implementation of the judgment and the release of Demirtaş.
“This is crucial for the functioning of Turkey’s democratic institutions and for reaffirming the high degree of protection that has to be granted to parliamentarians and politicians in a democratic society,” the PACE president said.
“I cannot emphasize enough, the importance that members of parliament, elected by the people in free and fair democratic elections, be allowed to perform their parliamentary activities without fear of harassment, undue charges from the executive, the courts or political opponents, or unjustified and otherwise politically motivated legal proceedings, including detention,” she added.
Demirtaş, 45, was arrested in November 2016. He is charged with a string of offenses, including conducting propaganda for the illegal PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.
Demirtaş denies all the charges and says the case against him is politically motivated.
In June, he ran for president from prison, coming third with 8.4 percent of the votes.