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HDP deputy gets 18-month suspended sentence on terrorist propaganda charges

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A Turkish court has handed down a suspended sentence of 18 months to a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda, Turkish media outlets reported.

The sentence was given to HDP Van deputy Murat Sarısaç by the Van 5th High Criminal Court on Thursday in the last hearing of the lawmaker’s trial.

Sarısaç faced the charges of disseminating propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) due to his social media messages in 2010, 2014 and 2015.

The PKK, which has been waging a war in the country’s Southeast since 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

The prosecution of members of parliament has been possible since the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lent support to a 2016 proposal submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on removing deputies’ immunity from prosecution. The immunity of all deputies who faced prosecution at the time was lifted in May 2016.

The political and legal assault on the HDP, which intensified after a truce between Kurdish militants and the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan broke down in 2015, grew even stronger after Erdoğan survived a coup attempt in July 2016 that was followed by a sweeping political crackdown.

The party currently faces a closure case on charges of “attempting to destroy the indivisibility between the state and the people.”

Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.

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