A letter co-written by the jailed former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and his cell mate, the removed mayor of Turkey’s Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakır (Amed), were read out in the Fifth Congress of the HDP on Sunday.
The letter of Selahattin Demirtaş and Selçuk Mızraklı read:
“We salute the chairs of the congress, all participants, and our very dear people with utmost sincerity. The Peoples’ Democratic Party who managed to stand tall despite all lawless and unethical pressures will continue to move forward, and much more strongly in fact, along with this congress. Everyone who overlooked the will, the intellect, the conscience and the spirit of resistance of our people have been mistaken, and it will be no different in the future.
“From our prison cell, we will continue to resonate the struggle carried by our people. We will never surrender, submit or be defeated. We’ll continue to resist till the reign of oppression is overcome, and peace and freedoms are restored. We are determined to prevail in this struggle, standing hand in hand with our party and our people. We congratulate all officials, and express our solidarity and best wishes of success for our friends to be elected. Hoping that this congress bears the best outcomes for all our people and our friends, we send you our heartfelt greetings.
“Wishing to reunite in a free future.”
Demirtaş and Mızraklı
Demirtaş and Mızraklı share a cell in Edirne Type F Prison, some 1,680 km from Diyarbakır, the hometown of both politicians.
Demirtaş has been incarcerated since November 2016. In December 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided that he should be immediately released, saying that the justification for his imprisonment was a cover for limiting pluralism and debate.
Mızraklı, a physician by profession, was replaced by the Turkish interior ministry with an appointed trustee after he was elected in 2019 local elections as the mayor of Diyarbakır, a city of 1.7 million. He was arrested in October 2019 on the spurious charge of being a ‘member of a terrorist organisation’, and has been incarcerated for almost three years now.