Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) former co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ attended her brother Necmi Yüksekdağ’s funeral on furlough, Fırat News reported on Friday.
Yüksekdağ has been behind bars since 4 November 2016, having been arrested alongside her co-chair at the time, Selahattin Demirtaş, and several other HDP MPs on charges of terrorism that they maintain are baseless.
The former HDP co-chair was flown from the northwestern İzmit province to her southern hometown of Adana, accompanied by soldiers. Fellow MPs and co-chairs of the Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) and Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) also attended the funeral.
After a wake in the family home and a ceremony at the cemetery, Yüksekdağ was taken back to the Kandıra Prison.
Another former HDP MP, Aysel Tuğluk, was held under arrest between December 2016 and October 2022 in the same prison, and was only released after her severe dementia hindered her life for more than a year. Tuğluk’s family believes the dementia was triggered after she faced racist attacks during her mother’s funeral, which she had also attended on furlough.
Demirtaş, under arrest in the northwestern Edirne province, had briefly visited his father in the hospital on furlough last year after the elderly man suffered a heart attack. At the time, the furlough had been mistakenly regarded as a sign of softening governmental policies regarding the Kurdish issue.
Pro-Kurdish politicians are often jailed in northwestern Turkey, while their families live in the east and southeast.
Despite an amendment to Turkish law that limits arrest without conviction to five years and in violation of multiple European Court of Human Rights rulings, neither Yüksekdağ nor Demirtaş have been released.
The Turkish Constitutional Court argued last year that time spent under arrest awaiting trial had not gone over the limit for Yüksekdağ, deducting time served in a separate case where she was convicted. Meanwhile, the politician’s lawyers maintain the sentence was unlawful as the politician faced trial multiple times over the same incidents packaged in alternative ways.
The arrest limit, raised to seven years in terrorism charges, is once again close to exhaustion. Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş’s lawyers are preparing to file appeals for release again next week, as are lawyers of their fellow MP Sebahat Tuncel. The limit has already expired for former MP and Diyarbakır (Amed) mayor Gültan Kışanak. All four are facing charges in both the HDP closure case and the so-called Kobani Trials.