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Jailed Kurdish politician Demirtaş nominated for 2019 Nobel Peace Prize

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Former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been jailed in Turkey since November 2016, has been nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize by a Swedish politician, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Friday.

Emir Ali Türkmen, the publisher of “Seher” (Dawn), which Demirtaş wrote while in jail, confirmed to Gazete Duvar that Swedish politician Thomas Hammarberg, a member of the Swedish parliament from the Social Democratic Party, nominated the jailed politician for the prestigious prize.

In a letter he wrote to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which is responsible for selecting the Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Hammarberg said Demirtaş has assumed an important role over the past 12 years in supporting every attempt in favor of peace between the Kurds and Turks as well as promoting minority rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights and democracy.

Hammarberg said as a leading Kurdish politician, Demirtaş has dedicated his life to a struggle for the achievement of these values.

A nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize may be submitted by any person who qualifies in one category of a list of criteria determined by the Norwegian Nobel Institute.

The Swedish politician said Demirtaş has been courageous and undeterred in his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem and has always worked for the end of the war against the Kurds in Turkey and Syria.

He said although Demirtaş is behind bars, he reminds everyone that the struggle for peace is more important than ever, so he was respectfully nominating him for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

A court found Demirtaş guilty in September of disseminating terrorist propaganda and sentenced him to four years, eight months in prison.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on Nov. 20 that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was a political act and ordered his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the European court’s ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey on Dec. 4 upheld Demirtaş’s four year, eight month prison sentence for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Demirtaş unsuccessfully ran against incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the 2014 and 2018 presidential elections. In his second attempt, the Kurdish politician had to carry out his election campaign from jail.

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