Member of the Turkish parliament Idris Baluken, 431, from the pro-Kurdish HDP party has received the sentence over charges of terrorism. He denies the charges. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A Turkish court has handed down a long sentence to a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on terror charges.
A court in Diyarbakir on Thursday sentenced Idris Baluken to 16 years and 8 months for "being a member of an armed terrorist organization," "violating the demonstration law," and "propagating for a terrorist organization," according to Turkish media outlet Haber Turk.
Prosecutors are also demanding 47 years on various other charges denied by the MP.
Baluken, 41, was jailed in early November 2016 when Turkish officials arrested eight high-ranking HDP politicians after the parliament voted earlier in the year to lift parliamentary immunity from a select group of MPs, many of whom have been accused by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the president of having ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
HDP has condemned the "unlawful detentions" of its MPs as politically motivated.
"The process is not a judicial one, it is political through and through. The parliamentary immunity of our MPs has been lifted in breach both of the Constitution and international democratic conventions," the party stated at the time of their arrests.
According to HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir, around 10,000 HDP supporters including mayors and city officials associated with the party have been arrested following the loss of immunity and the failed coup of last summer. Some of the detainees have been subsequently released.
The party has also lost its two co-chairs, who have both been arrested.
HDP chose Serpil Kemalbay as its new co-leader in place of Figen Yuksekdag whose party membership was revoked by the country's supreme court in 2017.
Selahattin Demirtas, the jailed co-chair of the pro-Kurdish HDP party in Turkey, has announced he will not run for re-election to the leadership position.
"I would like it to be known in advance that I will not stand as a candidate for co-chair" at HDP's party congress scheduled for February 11, Demirtas confirmed in a statement written from jail and published by his party on Thursday.
He said he made the decision so that HDP can "meet the new period of political struggle more powerfully."
Demirtas, 44, is facing the possibility of a decades-long prison term on terror charges.