Gültan Kışanak, a Kurdish politician, has been detained in Ankara beyond Turkey’s seven-year pretrial limit as of Wednesday, 25 October. Meral Danış Beştaş, deputy group chair of the People’s Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP), submitted a parliamentary question to Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç, inquiring about the legal basis for Kışanak’s continued detention.
Gültan Kışanak, who was elected as the co-mayor of Diyarbakır (Amed) Metropolitan Municipality in the local elections of March 2014 and served in this role for two years, was detained on 25 October 2016. She was formally arrested on 31 October and taken to Kandıra Type F High-Security Prison. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison by the Malatya 5th Heavy Penal Court on charges of “being a member of a terrorist organisation” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. After an appeal by Kışanak’s lawyers, the Gaziantep Regional Court of Justice overturned the local court’s sentence, and a retrial began.
Meanwhile, in 2020, as part of the Kobanê investigation targeting Kurdish politicians, including the co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and members of the Central Executive Committee (MYK), an arrest warrant was issued for Kışanak. After giving her statement, she was arrested for the second time. Her cases were consolidated and are being tried at the Ankara 22nd Heavy Penal Court.
The Turkish Penal Code (TCK) stipulates a maximum detention period of five years for offences falling within the scope of the heavy criminal court, while cases tried under the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) have a maximum detention period of seven years.
Applications for Kışanak’s release due to her long-term detention were made by her lawyers to the Ankara 22nd Heavy Penal Court, but no decision has been made yet. Beştaş brought Kışanak’s prolonged detention to the parliamentary agenda and posed questions to Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç.
Cihan Aydın, Kışanak’s lawyer, stated that they would inform the Constitutional Court if their request for release is denied.
Aydın highlighted the prolonged seven-year detention in Turkey’s pretrials, particularly affecting Kurds and dissidents. He expressed doubts about the judiciary’s independence from political influence in such cases. Aydın noted the judiciary’s division into three categories: those without political views, ruling party supporters and perceived ‘enemies’, including Kışanak.
Zülküf Kışanak, her spouse, stated, “There is no excuse left for not releasing her”.
For now, Kışanak remains in custody in Ankara.