Background on the Trial of Selahattin Demirtas



 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.

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The Trial of Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtas



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.

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Joint Statement on behalf of the International Observers Delegation to the trial of Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag

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

Imprisoned HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş and Deputies Join Prison Hunger Strikes

Contact: Web: 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

Julie Ward MEP denied visit to Leyla Birlik HDP MP.

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

HDP Statement and Messages from Jail. November 7th 2016

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

HDP Europe: Latest updates November 2016

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

Building solidarity with the Kurdish struggle for democracy, equality and freedom: Fringe Meeting at Labour Party Conference 2016

“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

Feleknas Uca Speech at Labour Party Conference 2016

Dear all, today I will talk about the political situation in Turkey.

In April 2016, the ‘Freedom for Öcalan’ campaign was started in the UK. The members of the campaign are now totally convinced that a peaceful solution to the current conflict will only be found if the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan is freed and allowed to play a full role in the development of a new peace process. Indeed, for the Kurdish people and supporters across the world, these campaigns that build solidarity amongst trade unionists, for the freedom of Öcalan constitute a significant initiative. Continue reading

PRESS RELEASE Building solidarity with the Kurdish struggle for democracy, equality and freedom

For immediate release

27th September 2016

The Freedom for Ocalan Campaign is holding a fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference in Liverpool today in Room 3a Conference Centre • 12.30pm – 2pm. Refreshments provided.

The meeting, entitled Building solidarity with the Kurdish struggle for democracy, equality and freedom is co-sponsored by the GMB, UNITE and Peace in Kurdistan Campaign. Continue reading