Turkey: Imprisoned Pro-Kurdish Party Leader Calls on Opposition Against Erdogan

His former boss pro-Kurdish party of Turkey Selahattin Demirtas, who has been imprisoned since 2016 despite Western calls for his release, said the Turkish opposition should unite against growing repression and divisive moves, including a lawsuit to ban the party. of it, reports the APE.

Demirtas told Reuters that opponents of the president’s ruling AKP party Tayyip Erdogan and its nationalist allies must agree on common democratic principles and form an alliance from now on, rather than wait until the elections, which are scheduled for 2023.

“All parties that want to fight side by side for democracy must unite,” Demirtas said in response to written questions from the Edirne prison in northwestern Turkey.

Speaking about his own situation after four and a half years in prison, Demirtas said that he feels very well, that he is strong and with high morale, with a clear conscience.

“They abducted us from our house at midnight illegally and turned us into political hostages. That is why we are proud, “he said. “Those who threw us here are ashamed. They went through the dirty pages of history. “

A Turkish court last month sentenced Demirtas to three and a half years in prison for insulting the president. However, the main case against him continues.

Demirtas is being held on terrorism charges, which he denies. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that his imprisonment demonstrates the restriction of pluralism and dialogue in Turkey, but Ankara has ignored the ECtHR’s calls for the immediate release of the pro-Kurdish party leader.

“Pressure, oppression and destruction are increasing every day. “Without waiting for the election, a real democratic alliance from today would be very meaningful and valuable,” he told Reuters.

Demirtas People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest in parliament, has been the target of repression for years, with thousands of its executives and members imprisoned and many MPs and mayors fired.

The crackdown culminated last month in an appeal to ban the HDP on charges of having links to guerrillas. The relevant trial has not started yet.

Demirtas said the appeal to ban the HDP showed that Erdogan and his party, the AKP, had set aside their founding principles, as Erdogan had previously said he was opposed to party closures.

“They have no goals other than to stay in power,” Demirtas said. “One of the aims of the lawsuit to shut down the AKP is to provoke conflicts within the opposition in order to weaken and divide. “The opposition must not fall into this trap.”

Reuters notes that his written questions to Demirtas were forwarded to him through the HDP and his lawyer, and Demirtas answered them orally, dictating the answers to his lawyer.