Turkey’s election authority rejects Demirtaş request to participate in rallies by video

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A photo taken and released on June 7, 2018 shows a brochure displaying Selahattin Demirtas, pro-Kurdish Peoples's Democratic Party (HDP) former and current presidential candidate, ahead of the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections, in Ankara. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) has refused a request by jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş to participate in rallies for the June 24 elections personally or via the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS), the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Sunday.

The request was submitted by the HDP for Demirtaş’s participation either personally or via SEGBİS in rallies in İstanbul, Antep, İzmir and Mardin.

The HDP said in a statement that the YSK ruling contradicts the decisions of its district branches, which approved Demirtaş’s request to participate in rallies.

A campaign speech made by Demirtaş from prison to be broadcast on Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) will also be shown during the party’s election rally in İstanbul on June 17.

Demirtaş’s campaign speech was taped on June 12 in Edirne Prison, where he is incarcerated.

Demirtaş has been in pre-trial detention since November 2016 on terror charges.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court on June 13 rejected an application filed by lawyers for Demirtaş for his release during the campaign period.

His lawyers on May 29 requested a court order for Demirtaş’s immediate release after two local courts ruled for a continuation of his imprisonment.

The court’s decision referred to the request for a court order, saying that nothing necessitating an immediate release had occurred during his imprisonment.

Demirtaş’s rivals Muharrem İnce, Meral Akşener and Temel Karamollaoğlu had previously said he should be free at least during the campaign period.

However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly called Demirtaş a “terrorist” in response to the opposition’s demand for his temporary release.

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