HDP Co-chair Yüksekdağ sentenced to one year in prison on insult charges

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Co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) Figen Yüksekdağ. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER /

Co-Chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Figen Yüksekdağ has been handed down a prison sentence of one year for “publicly insulting the government of Turkey,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

The Adana 11th Penal Court of First Instance convicted Yüksekdağ for a speech she made during a press statement in Adana on Oct. 12, 2015. Yüksekdağ, who has been in prison since November 2016, refused to participate in the court hearing by a video system on Thursday.

She was arrested in a police operation on Nov. 4 of last year along with eight HDP deputies including the other HDP co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş.

On Tuesday, Yüksedağ was sentenced to 18 months in prison by another court for “disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization,” in an interview she gave to Deutsche Welle.

In April, the İstanbul 22nd High Criminal Court also handed down a prison sentence of one year to Yüksekdağ for “disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.”

The parliamentary status of Yüksekdağ was removed in February after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a jail sentence in September 2016 handed down to her in 2013.

Yüksekdağ was sentenced to 10 months for participating in the funeral ceremony of Yasemin Çiftçi, a member of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) –- a terrorist group affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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 as well as 11 HDP deputies including the party’s co-chairs are behind bars on terror charges.

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