Diyarbakır courts reject release of jailed deputies

Diyarbakır courts reject release of jailed deputies

Diyarbakır courts reject release of jailed deputies

The Diyarbakır Bar Association announces its application on the imprisoned BDP deputies. AA photo

Two Diyarbakır courts refused to release four deputies of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and an independent lawmaker today, in contrast to a jailed main opposition MP who was granted his freedom last week, prompting the BDP to label the decision “political.”

The rulings on BDP deputies İbrahim Ayhan, Selma Irmak, Faysal Sarıyıldız, Gülser Yıldırım, and independent deputy Kemal Aktaş, completely ignored the people’s will, the BDP said, warning that the decision would hinder the peace process. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), meanwhile, announced that all four HDP deputies would launch an indefinite hunger strike tomorrow in Parliament to protest the “discriminatory approach against arrested deputies.” The HDP is allied to the BDP.

“Our arrested deputies and all of our politicians should be immediately released, and an end should be given at once to this practice of ‘political hostage-taking,’” said Gültan Kışanak and Selahattin Demirtaş, the BDP co-chairs.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder, meanwhile, announced on his Twitter account that all four HDP deputies, including himself, would launch an indefinite hunger strike today in Parliament in protest against the “discriminatory approach developed against arrested deputies.” The HDP is allied to the BDP.

The written statement released by the BDP was read out at a press conference held at the Parliament later in the day by two deputy parliamentary group chairs of the party, İdris Baluken and Pervin Buldan.

“This decision is not a legal one but is a political decision. A hostile manner has been openly adopted by the judiciary against our arrested deputies and politicians. This ruling is a legal scandal and [proof of a] double standard. Different laws are being applied in Istanbul and Diyarbakır. The refusal to release our deputies is an attempt to block the channels of politics; it ignores the democratic will of hundreds of thousands of people,” the BDP statement said. 

In response to questions at the press conference, Buldan said they did not feel any need to ask for a meeting with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, noting that they would, however, exhaust all legal initiatives. 

The government should immediately make a statement, Buldan added.

“We call on the government to duty and to sincerity in the face of this political decision of the judiciary, which will not serve the resolution process and which even has the potential the block the process,” the BDP said. 

The process is a government-led initiative aimed at ending the three-decade conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in order to pave the way for a resolution of the century-old Kurdish issue.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which celebrated the release of deputy Mustafa Balbay after more than four years in jail following a Constitutional Court ruling last week, joined the BDP in criticizing the court ruling. Calling the court “partial,” CHP Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu argued that the ruling has “once more harmed the will of Parliament and the people.”

Hopes for the release of five BDP deputies had been heightened when main opposition CHP İzmir deputy Mustafa Balbay was freed on Dec. 9 after the Constitutional Court ruled on Dec. 4 that his pre-trial detention had violated his rights. Balbay pledged his oath in Parliament on Dec. 10 after he was released pending appeal from nearly five years in prison in a coup plot case.

Yıldırım and Ayhan, elected respectively as BDP deputies from the southeastern province of Mardin and the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa in June 2011 elections, were detained in 2010 on charges of having links to the PKK and are still being held pending verdicts in their trials.

Three other BDP deputies in detention – Selma Irmak and Faysal Sarıyıldız from the southeastern province of Şırnak and Kemal Aktaş from the eastern province of Van – have also requested release but a prosecutor at the Diyarbakır 6th Court of Serious Crimes also recommended today that their petitions be turned down. 

The sixth deputy currently in prison is Engin Alan, a former soldier from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) who was jailed over another coup plot case. Alan, however, has already lost an appeal to the higher court, leaving him no chance of release under the ruling that freed Balbay.