I arrived in Igdir in Eastern Turkey, close to the border with Armenia, at 8am on the morning of Sunday June 23rd 2018, election day. My contact, Murat, met me at the airport and we went for a quick cup of chai before heading out to village communities in the foothills of Mount Ararat with a woman who had been the co-mayor of Igdir until unelected trustees had been appointed by the state instead. I had come to Turkey as an independent election observer at the invitation of HDP, having previously been an Election Observer for the European Parliament’s Democracy Support Unit, participating in official Election Observation Missions in Kenya, Kosovo and Kyrgyzstan in 2017. Continue reading
Written by Margaret Owen, International Trial Observer and Barrister
Sunday 15 April
My last blog on 13th February reported that the case of Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-chair of Turky’s HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), had been adjourned until 11th April. With his parliamentary immunity removed, Demirtas faces many separate indictments and trials under Turkey’s Anti Terror Laws. In February, before a court in Akara he had eloquently conducted his own defence, (see previous blogs) but as his request for bail was refused, he remained in custody at Evirne prison.
Monday 12th February 2018
Written by Margaret Owen, International Trial Observer and Barrister
On 4th November 2016, the Co-Chair of Turkey’s pro Kurdish political party, the HDP (the Peoples’ Democratic Party), Selahattin Demirtas (pictured) was arrested and kept in pre-trial detention at Edirne prison under the country’s anti-terror law. On Wednesday 14th February 2018, in Ankara Demirtas will appear before a court as part of his ongoing trial. I am a member of a delegation from the UK that hopes to observe proceedings as they unfold.
Blog post from International Trial Observer and Barrister Margaret Owen (pictured)
Wednesday, December 6
Ms Figen Yüksekdağ is charged, under the Anti Terror Law, with inciting violence, making propaganda for a terrorist organisation ( PKK) and establishing and managing a terrorist organisation. These accusations were made on the basis of speeches she had made, as an elected MP, both inside and outside parliament between 2011 and 2015. Figen, as an elected member of parliament, and co chair of a legal political party, was simply doing her job. It was absurd to allege that her speeches were promoting terrorism. There is no evidence that she organised or is a member of a terror group.
6th – 7th December 2017
We the undersigned make this declaration to serve as a joint statement on behalf of all members of the international observes delegation that have arrived here in Ankara to observe and objectively report on the trial of the two HDP (Peoples Democratic Party’s) Co-Chair’s Sellahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.
Mrs. Yuksekdag and Mr. Demirtas were arrested and detained in prison since last November, 2016. Numerous charges have been brought against them relating to alleged “terrorism” activities. The particulars and evidence of the charges they face however emanate from their parliamentary activities and the responsibility they must uphold on behalf of the millions of voters that have elected them as their parliamentary representatives. These include; their speeches in Parliament, speeches at political rally’s, party meetings, press statements and general and legitimate opposition party activities. Continue reading
Contact: email@example.com Web: http://www.hdp.org.tr Address: Barbaros Mah. Tahran Cad. Büklüm Sok. No: 117 06680 Çankaya, Ankara – Turkey Phone: +90 312 427 17 80 Fax: +90 312 4288957
31 March 2017
On 31 March 2017, our co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and MP Abdullah Zeydan, both held captive in Edirne High Security Prison, have initiated a hunger strike in solidarity with the protest actions of political prisoners across Turkey. Continue reading
MEP Julie Ward visited Diyarbakir with Peace in Kurdistan this weekend. Following the visit she attempted to meet with Leyla Birlik the MP arbitrarily detained in Silivri prison outside Istanbul. Julie is twinned with Leyla as part of an international campaign of solidarity. Unfortunately she was denied permission to enter the prison and was harassed by military police. Her full statement appears below. Continue reading
Following the detention of Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yiksekdag together with nine of their colleagues last week, and the issue of warrants for all the remaining HDP MPs, the HDP Executive Committee issued a statement full of strength and determination (copied in full below). Clearly parliamentary activity will be suspended but the struggle continues. The statement entitled “We will win- No matter What !” concludes “We will not bow down to this regime and its practices; we will continue to spread our proposals for democracy in defiance of this dictatorship. Lest we forget, we, all of us, are Turkey’s hope; we are its light of democracy and freedom. We will nourish this hope and light together.” Continue reading
Please find below 4 documents from the HDP setting out information and reactions to the detention of the Diyarbakir co-majors, the court ruling on Figen Yuksekdag, the state of emergency and the speech by Demirtas on 27th October
1. The court ruling on Figen Yüksekdağ is not lawful but arbitrary and political
Şanlı Urfa 5th High Criminal Court ruled today “to bar HDP co-chair Ms Figen Yüksekdağ from travel abroad by way of judicial control”. This action is entirely arbitrary and in conradiction of legal precedents. Continue reading
“This was a very well attended and successful fringe meeting and the first one that has been held at the Labour Party. It builds on the great work that UNITE, GMB and other unions have been doing with Peace in Kurdistan to build solidarity with the Kurds in their struggle for democracy, equality and freedom. It also builds on the path-breaking emergency motion that the TUC passed during its September conference in which all UK unions joined the call for the release of Abdullah Ocalan and the restart of the peace process. We intend to hold another fringe at next years party conference and to continue to push the case and spread the message.” Simon Dubbins Director of International for UNITE
The Freedom for Ocalan campaign held a fringe meeting at this year’s conference, co-sponsored by the GMB, UNITE and Peace in Kurdistan campaign. The Union movement has been very supportive of the campaign to free Ocalan, and in this, his 18th year of incarceration, it has passed an emergency resolution calling for, among other things , “the restart of the peace process that was unilaterally terminated by the Turkish government in June 2015, and for the release of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan as an essential element for such a process to be successful.” Continue reading