Turkey

ECHR ruling on 'terrorist' HDP leader is 'meaningless'

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu dismisses European rights court ruling on former co-chair of opposition party HDP

Orhan Onur Gemici   | 24.12.2020
ECHR ruling on 'terrorist' HDP leader is 'meaningless'

ANKARA

This week’s European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling calling for the release of a “terrorist” former party leader amounts to nothing, said Turkey’s interior minister Thursday.​​​​​​​

"[Selahattin] Demirtas is a terrorist. The European Court of Human Rights ruling, whatever the reason, is meaningless," Suleyman Soylu told a meeting of provincial police chiefs, speaking of Tuesday’s ruling on the former co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

The ECHR on Tuesday ruled that the arrest of Demirtas in 2017 on terror charges violated his freedom of expression and right to participate in elections, depriving him of his rights to liberty, security, and freedom of choice.

Turkey's government accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK terrorist organization.

The court also urged Turkey to take measures to release Demirtas, and ruled that Ankara should pay him a total of €60,000 ($73,641) in damages.

In November 2016, Demirtas and 12 HDP lawmakers were arrested on terrorism-related charges.

In September 2018, he was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison for spreading terrorist propaganda, leading a terrorist group, and inciting public hatred and hostility.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

New anti-terror operation

Soylu also announced that Turkey started a new anti-terror operation in the eastern Van province on Wednesday.

Some 3,251 security personnel, including Gendarmerie Special Operations forces, police, and other security personnel, are part of Operation Yildirim-17 Besta, Soylu added.

Anti-terror operations continue in order to establish peace, security, brotherhood, unity, and solidarity and to punish and get rid of terror groups, he said.

* Writing by Seda Sevencan

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