Lawyers of jailed Selahattin Demirtaş take ‘rights violation’ case to ECHR
Lawyers of Selahattin Demirtaş, the imprisoned former co-leader of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), saying his freedoms were restricted.
The lawyers’ appeal on June 27 said Demirtaş’s right to be elected as a citizen of Turkey was violated in the snap presidential and parliamentary elections that took place across Turkey and at customs gates on June 24.
Running for the presidential office in Ankara’s Beştepe district, Demirtaş was imprisoned during the campaign period, which barely lasted for two months after the snap elections were announced on April 20.
The lawyers also said their client faced a violation of the “freedom of expression.”
Demirtaş was not allowed to organize rallies in person, so he held an “e-rally” late on June 21, posting Twitter messages via his lawyers from the Edirne Prison where he has been held since November 2016.
“It is the first time in history that there is a rally from a prison cell. We are making history in terms of the history of democracy,” Demirtaş said, referring to the conditions of his imprisonment and Turkey’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
He also made his campaign speech on state broadcaster TRT on June 17 from prison, marking another first in Turkey and the world’s political history.
Wearing a dark suit, Demirtaş appeared in front of the cameras for the first time after nearly 20 months, denouncing what he called the government’s “repressive regime” ahead of the very early presidential election set to be held on June 24.
Demirtaş has been using his right to speak with his relatives and his lawyers to convey campaign messages, often shared with the public via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The former co-leader of the HDP is in jail while being tried in a number of cases, including one in which he is charged with being a member of a terrorist organization.
The HDP candidate appealed to the top court on May 29 after the Ankara 19th Heavy Criminal Court ruled for the continuation of his imprisonment for the case where the former HDP co-leader was tried over “being a member of a terrorist organization.”
As there is no conviction against him, the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) had approved his presidential candidacy and he ran his campaign from his jail cell.
He received 8.4 percent of the votes on June 24 elections, which took place under an ongoing state of emergency.
Meanwhile, the HDP made it above the much-criticized 10 percent threshold a party needs to pass in order to secure seats in parliament and secure representation.
The HDP has won 11.7 percent of the votes in the parliamentary race and secured 67 seats in a parliament with 600 seats.