The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Grand Chamber decided that former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was to be released immediately on 22 December. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ignored the decision and said, “The decision is not our concern”, leading to angry reactions across Turkey.
After the ECHR’s decision on Demirtaş, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance blocked the decision from being implemented by suppressing judicial organisations in Turkey.
Twenty-two bar associations, including Diyarbakır (Amed), Adana, Gaziantep (Dilok), İstanbul and İzmir, criticised the attitude of the government and demanded the implementation of the ECHR’s decision.
Diyarbakır Bar Association chair Cihan Aydın said the judiciary was not independent in Turkey: “Abuse of rights is one of the most severe sanctions for a signatory country. However, if I may say so, both the ruling parties and the judiciary, which work together, exert control at every turn. They resist the release of Demirtaş on totally political grounds”.
Former İstanbul Bar Association chair Turgut Kazan said the process might result in the removal of Turkey from the European Council. Referring to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s words – “The decision is not our concern” – Kazan said it makes no sense to talk about the decision after Erdoğan’s remarks. Kazan said that Erdoğan’s words mean “We do not consider Turkey as ruled by the law, and for that reason we do not recognise the law. And, when we do not recognise the law, then we also do not recognise the ECHR’s decision”.
HDP European Council representative Faik Yağızay also commented on the situation, saying, “Normally, the Committee of Ministers will come together in three months. The European Council Committee of Ministers is an organisation which is responsible for inspecting the decisions of the ECHR, whether implemented or not. Accordingly, the Committee of Ministers will come together and will put pressure on Turkey to ensure the decisions of the court are implemented”.
Representative Yağızay also said the ruling parties used this kind of discourse in the name of populism, to appease domestic supporters, and it had no grounding in the law.