Weimar Human Rights Award

Award for Kurdish oppositionist Selahattin Demirta? (Press Release)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) welcomes the fact that the detained Kurdish activist Selahattin Demirta? will be honored with the Weimar Human Rights Award. Yesterday, the city council of Weimar accepted the proposal of the selection committee. Demirta? is one of the most important opposition politicians in the recent history of Turkey. The former leader of the HDP (Turkish: Halklar?n Demokratik Partisi; Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan, meaning "Democratic Party of the Peoples") has been kept detained since November 3, 2016, although he is innocent. He is accused of "terror propaganda". 

"The award is also a clear request to the German federal government to reconsider its policy towards Turkey – because of the human rights violations in the country itself and because of the human rights violations Turkey is committing in other countries," stated Dr. Kamal Sido, Middle East Consultant of the STP, on Thursday in Göttingen. "The federal government should strike a combative tone towards the Erdogan regime and demand Demirta?'s immediate release. All of Turkey's inhabitants deserve to live a life in freedom and democracy." 

Selahattin Demirta? was born in Palu, the Kurdish part of the country, in 1973. At the age of 18, Demirta? decided to become politically active. He took part in a funeral service for a Kurdish politician who had been murdered, and he witnessed how the Turkish police opened fire on the mourners, killing several people. He decided to study law in order to protect people from politically motivated police arbitrariness by peaceful and legal means. He worked as a human rights lawyer and rose within the ranks of the Kurdish movement. Eventually, he became Head of a regional office of a human rights organization in the "Kurdish capital" Diyarbakir in the Turkey and was elected Director of the association.

Selahattin Demirta? stands for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, for real democratization, for religious freedom for the Christians, Alevis, and Yezidis in the country – politically and personally. He advocates for linguistic, political, but also cultural equality of the Kurdish, Assyro-Aramaic, Armenian, and Greek ethnic groups in Turkey. 

Selahattin Demirta? is married to the teacher Ba?ak Demirta?, and they have two daughters. They too are waiting for him to be released. His brother, who lives in Germany, is now trying to contact him in prison to inform him about the award. The official award ceremony is supposed to take place in December.