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EP delegation prevented by Turkish security from attending Yüksekdağ trial

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A delegation from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) of the European Parliament was prevented on Wednesday morning from entering the courthouse in Ankara where the trial of Figen Yüksekdağ, co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was being held.

Along with Italian Member of the European Parliament Eleonora Forenza, human rights lawyers and parliamentarians from other European countries were barred by Turkish riot police and security personnel from observing the trial of the HDP co-leader.

Forenza denounced the presence of such heavy security for a trial that is supposed to be public and transparent and has criticized the Turkish state for its authoritarianism with regards to the proceedings, according to a press release from the GUE/NGL issued on Wednesday.

The MEP has vowed to return to the courthouse on Thursday for the trial of Yüksekdağ’s colleague and fellow HDP leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, and is hopeful that the regrettable situation will not be repeated.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the Ankara 16th High Criminal Court ruled to continue the detention of Yüksekdağ and adjourned the trial until Feb. 20 2018.

According to an indictment first prepared by the Van Public Prosecutor’s Office, Yüksekdağ is accused of using the word “martyr” for outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members during an HDP congress in Van on April 9, 2016.

The indictment demanded up to 10 years in jail on charges of terror organization propaganda and revealing a clear and present danger to public order.

Yüksekdağ was sentenced to 10 months in 2016 for participating in 2012 in the funeral ceremony of a member of a terrorist group affiliated with PKK.

In April 2017, the İstanbul 22nd High Criminal Court handed down a prison sentence of one year to Yüksekdağ for disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.

She was sentenced on June 6, 2017 to 18 months in prison by another court for spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization.

The Adana 11th Penal Court of First Instance in June 2017 handed down a sentence to Yüksekdağ of one year in prison for a speech she made during a press event in Adana on Oct. 12, 2015.

Yüksekdağ’s parliamentary status was removed in February after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a sentence handed down to her in 2013.

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

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.

Meanwhile, Demirtaş will present his defense through a voice and video informatics system, SEGBİS, in a hearing to be held at Sincan Prison in Ankara on Dec. 7, 399 days after his arrest.

The trials of both Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş are being heard by the Ankara 16th High Criminal Court.

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