Hüda Kaya, a former member of the Turkish parliament who represented the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was arrested at Istanbul airport on Wednesday evening while attempting to board a flight to Hamburg, Germany. The arrest is in connection to the 2014 Kobani protests.
After her arrest, Kaya was taken into custody and later sent to prison to await trial.
Kaya’s imprisonment was because of her “principled stance against the government’s efforts to control and dominate religious affairs”, the People’s Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) said in a statement protesting the arrest.
Kaya was first arrested in 1998, over her activism against the hijab ban in Turkey at the time. A devout Muslim, Kaya’s interpretation of religion helped her develop her advocacy for human rights and her voice against injustice. She was elected to parliament as a member of the HDP in 2015 and has been a staunch critic of the government’s abuse of religious values ever since.
HEDEP asserted that Kaya’s arrest was a form of harassment, and called on citizens to raise their voices against what it described as government tyranny.
“Hüda Kaya has always stood for rights, law and justice outside the ‘power and state religiosity’ that the AKP government is trying to impose. The government is trying to punish her opposition to the conservative identity it has developed,” the party said. “As HEDEP, we call on everyone to be vigilant against this government’s disregard for the right to life of anyone other than themselves and to protest against this injustice.”
Jailed former co-chairs of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, along with many other senior party officials, are also on trial for inciting the violence that led to several deaths in connection with the 2014 Kobani protests, which called for solidarity with the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani when it was besieged by the Islamic State (ISIS) in autumn 2014.