Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Şanlıurfa deputy İbrahim Ayhan has been handed down a prison sentence of 15 months for posting the photos of two Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) operatives on social media in 2015, the Diken news website reported on Monday.
The Şanlıurfa 5th High Criminal Court gave the prison sentence to Ayhan on charges of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.
During Monday’s hearing at the Şanlıurfa court which was not attended by Ayhan, his lawyer, Sevda Çelik Özbingöl, defended her client, saying he did not commit the alleged crime and was being prosecuted because of his opposing political views.
In 2015, Ayhan shared a photo of PKK operative İsmail Aydemir, who was killed in Tunceli province, and Aziz Güler, who died while fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, on his social media account with the following message: “The rebellious commander of Dersim [the Kurdish name for Tunceli] Baran Dersim [code name of Aydemir] and the freedom fighter of the Kobani resistance [a Syrian Kurdish town which became a symbol of the war against ISIL] Aziz Güler, we cherish your memory.”
HDP Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ along with nine other lawmakers from the party are now in Turkish jails on terror charges following the revocation of their parliamentary immunity in May 2016.
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 and co-chairs have been arrested on terror charges.
The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.