Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, poses during an interview in Brussels on August 6, 2015. File photo: John Thys | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — In a letter addressed to fellow Kurds, former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas said he is being persecuted and imprisoned because of his ethnic identity and is appealing for support
“I am writing this letter in a confinement cell at the heavy penalties prison where I have been jailed for more than two years,” read his letter.
Nearly 5,000 HDP members have been imprisoned by the Turkish state.
“Nine HDP MPs and 58 mayors are still in prison. We are being flagrantly persecuted and we have been put in jail because of our Kurdish ethnic identity, involvement in politics, and call for our peoples’ lives and properties to be protected – which is our right,” Demirtas said in a statement.
He communicates through his lawyer.
“I am calling on you for support and coordination. I call on you to help us in our endeavors for freedom and democracy. I have confidence you will you will work to convey our message and communicate our voices to the international community. The question is as important as life and death.
Demirtas will face another round of judicial proceedings on Wednesday.
“Therefore I am calling on you to be present in the trial, if possible. I am grateful for your support and coordination in convey our message,” Demirtas wrote.
He is facing 142 years on multiple charges stemming from allegations of ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). But his Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which he led before his arrest and detention, says the case against him is political.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in November that Turkey should end its pre-trial detention of Demirtas pending his appeal and found several instances of human rights violations by the courts in the handling of his case.
However, an Istanbul court denied his appeal
earlier this week.
Demirtas has urged people to make their objections known at the ballot box. Turkey will hold municipal elections in March.