Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called on Turkish authorities to act in line with a ruling made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday that condemned the imprisonment of two former HDP co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş.
“Every day you fail to implement judicial decisions, you commit a crime,” said the HDP, and urged the release of the imprisoned party members.
The ECHR found that during detention within the Turkish legal system Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş were deprived of effective legal assistance, said the HDP.
The court’s findings confirmed that the co-chairs’ rights had been repeatedly violated, the party said, and demanded that the two top politicians, and other imprisoned HDP members, were released.
Following the ECHR ruling, Green Left Party legislator Meral Danış Beştaş also took to Twitter to criticise Turkey’s continuous disregard for the rule of law in holding Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş in prison, despite multiple violation rulings from the ECHR and calls for their immediate acquittal and release.
The two political prisoners were essentially hostages of the Turkish government, Beştaş said. She added that the ECHR’s repeated rulings affirmed Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ’s innocence and that holding the HDP representatives in prison was akin to a failure to acknowledge the will of millions of Turkish citizens.
The ECHR had previously ruled in 2021 that Turkish authorities must immediately release Demirtaş, saying that he faced imprisonment under politically motivated accusations. Turkey has refused to release Demirtaş. In November 2022, the court ruled that Turkey had violated the rights of 12 other imprisoned HDP members, including Figen Yüksekdağ.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE), which oversee the implementation of the ECHR decisions stressed, in an annual report released in April, that Turkey frequently failed to comply with rulings on freedom of expression and the press.