In a rare move by a mainstream TV channel, Başak Demirtaş, the wife of the imprisoned former pro-Kurdish party leader Selahattin Demirtaş, appeared as a guest in a morning show, triggering reactions on social media with both positive and negative comments.
As the topic ‘Selahattin Demirtaş’ has quickly become one of the top trending topics in Twitter after the show was broadcast live on Fox TV, a deputy co-chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Hamza Dağ, said on Twitter that this was a deliberate move made by the TV’s management.
“To bring the spouse of the person who had instigated the murders committed on 6-8 October to a live show on the anniversary of those events, and to have her say, ‘He has no remorse.’ (…) This is no coincidence. This is something done deliberately, consciously. On whose side are you, Fox TV? The terror, or Turkey?”
Başak Demirtaş indicated during the show that she and her two daughters weren’t able to meet with Selahattin Demirtaş in open visits for 19 months, and that the officials justified these restrictions on the grounds that it was a preventive measure for the pandemic.
Asked by the host if Selahattin Demirtaş had any remorse for being involved in politics which eventually led to his imprisonment, Başak Demirtaş said, he was not at all remorseful:
“Selahattin never said that he felt remorse for what he did. He never said, ‘I wish I’d been outside. Why did I get in prison?’ And neither did I. Nobody from the family ever said anything like this. And well, this is the way it is in Turkey. If you’re Kurdish and you’re in opposition, it has a certain cost. Our whole history is like this. Unfortunately, this is the way it is. I wish it wasn’t.”
Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has been imprisoned for five years at an F-type prison in Turkey’s western border province of Edirne, 1,700 kilometres away from his hometown Diyarbakır (Amed). While the distance makes it incredibly hard for his family members to make regular prison visits, his parents were seriously injured in a car accident as they were travelling to Edirne in December 2019.
Demirtaş is kept in prison despite a binding ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in December 2020 that he must be immediately released. The Court said in its ruling that the Turkish state’s justification for his imprisonment was actually a cover for limiting pluralism and debate.
The ‘6-8 October events’ the AKP deputy co-chair Hamza Dağ refers to in his aforementioned tweet relates to the peaceful demonstrations of Kurds that took place in 2014, calling for an end to the Turkish government’s policy of isolating the town of Kobane in northern Syria, a town where Kurdish fighters put up an armed resistance against assaults by the Islamic State for months. In separate violent incidents during the demonstrations, 46 people, most of whom were affiliated with the HDP, were killed, and more than 600 wounded.