Jailed leader of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas in a meeting with Masoud Barzani president of the Kurdistan Region on his last visit to Erbil in September 2016. Photo: KRP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey praised a recent demand from the president of the Kurdistan Region to release the imprisoned HDP leaders and MPs for “the interest of peace” in the country.
Speaking to Rudaw TV on Saturday, Lazgin Botan, a HDP parliamentarian in Turkey, appreciated Barzani’s call for the release of his party’s jailed leaders and politicians, describing him as an influential and international leader.
“Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region, is known on an international level and has his own position. And his demand for releasing Salahattin Demirtas [co-leader of the HDP] is not meddling in Turkey’s affairs,” Botan said.
“Barzani has influence on the Kurdish nation and even Justice and Development Party (AKP) and his demand is right," Botan claimed, referring to strong bilateral relations between Barzani and Turkish officials of the ruling AKP.
Barzani previously has called for the release of Demirtas who has been detained for nearly four months.
“In the interest of peace in Turkey, it would be better for him and other arrested politicians to be released,” Barzani said in an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, referencing to Demirtas and other jailed HDP officials.
Barzani praised the role of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has shown “much courage,” adding that he was the only politician who could bring peace between Turks and Kurds. But he criticized recent developments in Turkey, calling for the release of opposition politicians detained in the country.
The decades-long conflict between the Turkish army and the PKK was reignited nearly two years ago. In the spring of 2016, the Turkish parliament voted to lift immunity from a select group of lawmakers including many HDP MPs accused of supporting terrorism and the PKK.
Demirtas was sentenced to five months in jail earlier this month on charges of “insulting the Turkish nation.” He is also facing other charges in pending cases and prosecutors have recommended he serve between 43 and 142 years in prison.
His co-chair, Figen Yuksekdag, was stripped of per parliamentary seat this week after an appeals court confirmed her 2016 conviction for terrorism-related charges. She is serving 10 months in prison.
Members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuse the pro-Kurdish HDP of having ties with the PKK, a named terrorist organization in Turkey.
In a recent interview with French paper Le Monde, Barzani said that if Turkish authorities asked, he would be ready to help restart peace talks between Ankara and the PKK, “but that request has to come from Ankara.”
Barzani will visit Turkey on Sunday to discuss a range of issues with Erdogan, including border security, the economy, cultural and humanitarian issues.