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EU expresses concern over measures targeting HDP

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The European Union expressed concern about measures taken on Tuesday against three deputies of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) including both of its co-chairs, saying the EU, together with the Council of Europe, is continuing to follow and assess the situation very closely within the framework of its comprehensive engagement with Turkey.

“The full and effective participation of all democratically elected political parties in the legislature is an essential element of Turkey’s international commitments and its status as a candidate country,” said a statement issued by the European External Action Service on Wednesday.

“The EU has repeatedly expressed its concern regarding developments which can weaken the rule of law, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and parliamentary democracy in Turkey.”

While the Turkish Parliament has stripped Figen Yüksekdağ, co-chair of the HDP who was jailed on terror charges in November, of her parliamentary status, a court in eastern Turkey has handed down a prison sentence of five months to jailed HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş on charges of insulting the Turkish nation, republic and state institutions.

In a similar development HDP deputy İdris Baluken, who was recently released from jail, was arrested in Ankara on Tuesday after a Diyarbakır court issued an arrest warrant for him.

It was also recalled in the EU statement that the new measures further add to the concerns expressed following the Turkish Parliament’s adoption last May of a law allowing the immunity of a large number of deputies to be removed as well as in the wake of the ensuing detention and arrest of several HDP members of parliament, including its two co-chairs.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges. There are currently 12 HDP deputies behind bars including the party’s Co-chairs Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş.

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