Jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş has called on the country’s Kurds to have faith in science and get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“I hear the vaccination rates in some of our cities are very low. My special request for our people who have concerns about the vaccine is to get your shots. Don’t believe the rumors, trust in science,” Demirtaş tweeted on Monday. His Twitter account is managed by his lawyers.
According to data from the Turkish Health Ministry on Monday, 17,465,681 people have so far been vaccinated with two doses of the coronavirus vaccine since January when Turkey began its vaccination drive, while 37,906,817 people have been given their first dose.
Statistics show low levels of vaccinations in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish provinces in the country’s east and southeast.
Professor Mustafa Necmi İlhan, a member of the scientific board advising the government on coronavirus measures, said in a statement last week that overconfidence on the part of the younger population and skepticism about the safety of the vaccine were the reasons for the low vaccination rates in the country’s east and southeast regions.
He said young people think they would get away with a light case of COVID-19 if they were to contract it and thus feel no need to get vaccinated.
The professor said 80 percent of the population in the country should be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, or else there would be new outbreaks in cities with low vaccination rates.
Demirtaş, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been behind bars on politically motivated charges since November 2016 despite rulings from the European Court of Human Rights calling for his immediate release.