3,126 years in prison, 18 life sentences in total sought for 55 pro-Kurdish HDP deputies

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A supporter holds a portrait of Selahattin Demirtas,(R) , detained leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) at a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, on November 8, 2016. The arrest of 10 of the HDP MPs, including party leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, added to tensions as Turkey wages a relentless battle against Kurdish militants and deals with the aftermath of a July 15 failed coup. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Turkish authorities are seeking prison sentences of up to 3,126 years in total and 18 life sentences for 55 deputies of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including imprisoned Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who was indicted by a prosecutor demanding a jail sentence of up to 486 years and two life sentences.

According to a statement by a HDP law commission released on Tuesday, 510 investigations have been launched into 55 HDP deputies since May of last year after the Turkish Parliament lifted their immunity from prosecution.

Underlining that there are 12 HDP deputies in jail, including Co-chairs Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the HDP commission said pro-Kurdish lawmakers are charged with 645 crimes, including terror propaganda, supporting terrorist groups such as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and disrupting the public order.

According to the indictment against Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ, being leaders of the PKK, promoting the propaganda of a terrorist organization and disseminating its propaganda in speeches made on various occasions are among several other charges leveled against the HDP co-chairs.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. In addition to the HDP deputies who are jailed, hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges, while the government has appointed trustees to scores of municipalities run by the democratically elected Kurdish mayors.

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