Trial against Selahattin Demirtas begins (April 26)

Intolerable double standards with regard to opposition members (Press Release)

On the occasion of the beginning of the trial against Kurdish opposition politician Selahattin Demirtas and other defendants in Turkey tomorrow (April 26), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticized not only the politically motivated trial, but also the fact that the West has double standards with regard to opposition members in authoritarian regimes: "It is hard to bear that a peaceful and democratically minded politician like Demirtas is hardly shown any solidarity, while someone like Nawalny can rely on support from the highest government circles," stated Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP's Middle East Consultant. "Turkish President Erdogan has been systematically imprisoning political rivals for years. However, as Turkey is a member of NATO, he can get away with his anti-democratic behavior." So far, Demirtas has only been given support in the scope of the Bundestag's program "Parliamentarians Protect Parliamentarians", in which various members of the Bundestag are involved.

The HDP politician has been in prison since November 3, 2016. He advocates – politically and personally – for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, for genuine democratization, and for freedom of belief in Turkey. Furthermore, he is committed to the linguistic, political, but also the cultural equality of the population groups of the Kurds, the Assyrian/Aramaic, and the Armenians. The arrest of the two HDP chairmen – Demirtas and the co-chairwoman Figen Yüksekdag – did not comply with the rule of law and did not meet humanitarian standards. Wiretapped telephone conversations had led to the indictment, but the immunity of the two members of the Turkish parliament had not been lifted at the time.

"The arrest of Selahattin Demirtas was intended to intimidate Erdogan's political rivals. At the same time, we see further attempts to politicize Turkish courts and to make them dependent on the president," Sido criticized. "This is also reflected in the fact that Turkish courts have affirmed Demirtas' prison sentence of 142 years, even though the European Court of Human Rights has been calling for his release since 2018." The ECtHR had reiterated this demand only on December 22, 2020. According to the ruling, this is not only a violation of the right to freedom of expression and the right to liberty and security, but also a clear attempt to suppress pluralism in the country – with the aim of cutting down on free political debate. The Turkish judges had not taken the judgment of the ECtHR into consideration, and it was not attached to the court file.