Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş has shared four decisions for his release on social media, accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of ignoring the judgments of local courts and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), local media reported on Wednesday.
Demirtaş, former leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and also a human rights lawyer, has been behind bars since November 2016 on politically motivated charges.
The Kurdish leader on Wednesday listed in a series of tweets four court decisions for his release that were rendered by the ECtHR in 2018, the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court in 2019, the Constitutional Court in 2020 and the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR in 2021, saying Erdoğan prevented compliance with those decisions.
“I’m not the guilty one. It is Erdoğan who openly gives instructions to the courts and judges. My response to those who call me a ‘terrorist leader’ is this: You are the terrorists, and you are their leaders!” Demirtaş added.
Suçlu olan ben değilim. Mahkemelere, hakimlere açıkça talimat veren Erdoğan’dır.
Bana “teröristbaşı” diyenlere cevabımsa şudur: Terörist de sizsiniz, başı da!
— Selahattin Demirtaş (@hdpdemirtas) April 26, 2023
Demirtaş was an outspoken critic of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, Erdoğan, before he was jailed. He ran in the presidential elections of 2014 and 2018 as a rival to Erdoğan. The imprisoned leader conducted his election campaign from jail for the 2018 election.
His tweets, posted through his lawyers, came after Erdoğan on Monday criticized one of his rivals, presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, for his election promise to release political prisoners, including such figures as Demirtaş and philanthropist Osman Kavala. Erdoğan also referred to Demirtaş as a “terrorist” in the same speech delivered in the western province of Bursa.
Erdoğan and his ruling AKP, in addition to their ultranationalist election partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), accuse the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and also accuse other opposition parties of collaboration with it from time to time.
The PKK, recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984.
The HDP currently faces a closure case on charges of “attempting to destroy the indivisibility between the state and the people,” and hundreds of its politicians, including 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.