Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), argued in a statement that following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) asking for his release, political pressure on judges in Turkey is growing to uphold his conviction and keep him imprisoned.
Demirtaş was sentenced to four years, eight months for speeches he made during Newroz celebrations in 2013 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda. According to Demirtaş, while similar cases are pending in a higher court, his case is being accelerated to prevent implementation of the ECtHR judgment.
“There is an obvious intervention in the case. The purpose is to keep me in prison on flimsy charges before the ECtHR decision must be implemented,” Demirtaş said in his written statement from prison.
Following Europe’s top human rights court’s call to release Demirtaş immediately, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey is not bound by ECtHR decisions even though the country is party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Erdoğan vowed to take steps to “finish up” the case. According to Demirtaş, such steps are already being taken now by expediting his trials.
In his statement Demirtaş warned the judiciary not to become part of a politically motivated attempt to keep him imprisoned without legal grounds as deprivation of freedom is considered a “crime against humanity” under Turkish law. Demirtaş urged bureaucrats to avoid implication in a crime based on reliance on politicians.