Court rules to continue two-year-long pretrial detention of 2 Kurdish politicians

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Gülten Kışanak (L) and Sebahat Tuncel.

A court in Malatya has ruled to keep Gültan Kışanak, former mayor of Diyarbakır from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and Sebahat Tuncel, co-chair of Democratic Regions Party (DBP) in pretrial detention, which has already exceeded two years, the Diken news website reported on Monday.

Kışanak was arrested in October 2016 and Tuncel in November 2016 on several terrorism-related charges.

The prosecutor demanded 22-and-a-half years in prison for Kışanak and 15 for Tuncel on charges of membership in terrorist groups as well as 26 years for both politicians on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

On Dec. 6 HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder was sent to prison after his three year, six month sentence was upheld by an İstanbul appeals court.

The Turkish government’s crackdown on the Kurdish political movement began in late 2016 with the arrest of high-profile politicians, including the party’s then co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, which led to the detention of thousands of HDP members including dozens of elected mayors of predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces who were replaced by government-appointed trustees.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), for several years until a truce in effect collapsed in the summer of 2015. Since then, there have been clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.

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