HDP to talk to gov’t on  co-chair’s hunger strike

HDP to talk to gov’t on  co-chair’s hunger strike

HDP to talk to gov’t on co-chair’s hunger strike

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Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder has said his fellow deputy Pervin Buldan and himself will meet Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on April 3 to convey their concerns over their co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who has launched a hunger strike.  

The party’s jailed co-chairs have “no connection” to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), noting that he himself had “over 100 meetings” with PKK members during the collapsed peace process, Önder said on March 31. 

Demirtaş and HDP deputy Abdullah Zeydan started a hunger strike on March 31 to protest “inhumane treatment” in jail.

Önder made the comments in an interview with private broadcaster Fox in reference to jailed HDP co-chairs Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

“In fact, I’m the one who has had a major connection with the PKK, as I held over 100 meetings with them,” he added. 

He also pointed to a contradiction in the way the HDP is treated, referring to recent statements from Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş that “Istanbul should be autonomous.”

“Topbaş said ‘Istanbul should be autonomous.’ But when we wished for that [local rule] for the whole country, we were harshly accused,” Önder said.

The HDP deputy also said he agreed with the “no” voters from the divided Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) about the referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system due on April 16.

“I agree with the naysayers from the MHP about the constitutional referendum. This country could be divided as a result of this constitution,” he said.     

Meanwhile, Demirtaş, said the strike aimed to remind the Justice Ministry of its responsibilities. Demirtaş, who is prison in the northwestern province of Edirne with Zeydan, said in a statement on March 31 that all prisoners should be treated humanely. 

“Accepting the Justice Ministry’s insensitivity about the severity of the issues, which are under its responsibility, is impossible for us. We as the deputies have no demand of our own. We are on hunger strike to draw attention to the problems in prisons, reminding the Justice Ministry of the responsibilities and to protest arbitrary treatment, especially by the Edirne Prison wardens,” he said. 

A sum of 13 deputies from the ranks of the HDP, the third larges party in parliament, are in jail for charges involving links to PKK.