The prison sentence issued to a key figure for Turkey’s main opposition party Canan Kaftancıoğlu is political and therefore unacceptable, said Meral Danış Beştaş.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s plan is to use the judiciary to eliminate everyone who opposes it, she added.
Charges against the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul chair Kaftancıoğlu are based on tweets published between 2012 and 2017, in an investigation launched on 15 January 2018.
The charges against Kaftancıoğlu includes making propaganda for a terrorist organisation, insulting a public official, insulting the president, openly humiliating the Republic of Turkey, and inciting the people to hatred and enmity.
The local court sentenced her to nine years, eight months and 20 days in prison. Upon retrial, the Court of Cassation on the 12 May upheld a sentence of four years, 11 months and 20 days in prison against Kaftancıoğlu.
“We will continue to organise and work in the hope of establishing the rule of law and to remove evil in power,” Kaftancıoğlu tweeted after the verdict was announced.
After the Court of Cassation’s decision, CHP Central Executive Committee held an urgent meeting, making plans to hold a demonstration in Istanbul on 21 May.
Kaftancıoğlu played a key role in the CHP winning the 2019 mayoral elections in Turkey’s megacity Istanbul and capital Ankara, ending two decades of right-wing conservative rule. Due to the support of the Kurds in Istanbul, CHP’s candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu won a landslide victory.
Opposition parties also reacted at the decision, commonly claiming that the court decision was politically orientated due to Kaftancıoğlu’s significant contribution to the victory of the opposition in the Istanbul elections.
“You are trying to take revenge on Canan Kaftancıoğlu, as you do with everyone who gave you a taste of defeat,” Ahmet Şık, Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) MP, said in the parliament.
Left wing parties share the view that Kaftancıoğlu’s punishment is political, including the Labour Party (EMEP), Left Party (SOL Parti), the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), and the Communist Movement of Turkey (TKH).
Kaftancıoğlu is not the first prominent CHP member to be arrested. In June 2020, CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu was stripped of his immunity, dismissed from his duties and subsequently arrested. In November of the same year, a prosecutor demanded the lifting of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s immunity over his comments in support of jailed former chair of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş.
Two HDP deputies, Leyla Güven and Musa Farisoğulları, also lost their parliamentary immunities and status as deputies at the same time, and were sent to prison to await trial. Thousands of HDP members, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, deputies and mayors, are currently incarcerated on similar charges of terrorism and propaganda.