Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) who has been imprisoned since November 2016, has challenged Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who recently expressed his doubt in a sarcastical manner whether ‘the supporters of Demirtaş had any strength left in them to organise rallies.’
Responding to a question by a media representative on Wednesday, Erdoğan had said: “The person jailed in Edirne says, ‘Come together, organise united rallies.’ Well, why don’t you organise your own rally instead of saying such things? Address your own supporters first. Do your supporters, indeed, have any strength left in them to organise rallies?”
Demirtaş quickly replied with a message, which was delivered by his lawyers and posted on his Twitter account, saying:
“Erdoğan has expressed concern over an issue about me organising a rally. HDP is, actually, organising rallies all the time. But if you’re really so eager for it, I challenge you. Let me get out of prison for merely two hours and go to the assembly zone in Yenikapı carrying a speaker. And you go to the same place the next day with all the conveniences of the state. Let the one who’s gathered a single person less quit politics. Are you in?”
As the tweet of Demirtaş received over 41,000 ‘likes’ within hours, there was no response from president Erdoğan or any official of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Demirtaş remains imprisoned despite a 2018 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights which stated that his imprisonment had the “ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate,” and which called for his immediate release.