Member of Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in front of the European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday. Photo: HDP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have asked for help from the European Court of Human Rights, saying their embattled party has “exhausted” all domestic remedies.
According to HDP around 10,000 of its supporters and members, including mayors and city officials associated with the party have been arrested; some of the detainees have been subsequently released with or without bail.
HDP’s leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag have both been jailed on terrorism convictions for alleged association with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Yuksekdag was stripped of her party membership and HDP elected Serpil Kemalbay to fill her place last month.
The elected MPs were charged after the parliament voted to lift parliamentary immunity from a select group of its members, including many from the pro-Kurdish HDP.
HDP says they are being directly targeted by the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Demirtas has been in prison for 237 days now, members of parliament are in prison, mayors are in prison – and the name for this is not fair judicial process, this can only be described as a purge targeting a particular political movement carried out by the government itself,” HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir stated in a press release on Thursday.
He said he was speaking on behalf of the 6 million people who voted HDP MPs into parliament and whose political will “has been imprisoned.”
Baydemir alleged that Turkish courts are being used by Erdogan as “tools to suppress the opposition.”
As a consequence, “domestic remedies in Turkey are unsuitable and blocked,” he said.
HDP filed an application before the European Court of Human Rights in February with respect to the detention of Demirtas and Yuksekdag.
Baydemir called for the court to announce a decision, saying they had gathered in front of the court because “domestic remedies in Turkey are not effective.”
“Human rights, law and democracy cannot be considered an internal matter of any country. Human rights, justice, freedom and equality are common values of humanity,” he stated.