Arrest of Kurdish ex-MP a violation of rights, says top Turkish court

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the rights of former pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Leyla Güven were violated when she was kept in prison following her re-election in the 2018 elections, SoL news site reported on Saturday.

Güven, the former co-chair for the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella organisation for Kurdish political movement, was arrested in January 2018 for for labelling the Turkish military operation against a Syrian Kurdish militia an “invasion.”

The former HDP lawmaker, who was elected to represent the southeastern province of Hakkari in June 2018, was released from prison in January 2019 after an 11-week hunger strike.

While behind bars, the 54-year-old began a hunger strike to protest the prison conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish self-rule for four decades.

But Turkey’s parliament stripped Güven of her parliamentary status in June of 2020, paving the way for her re-arrest.

In December of 2020, a Turkish court sentenced Güven to over 22 years in jail on terror charges.

Ankara has in recent years intensified a crackdown on the HDP, which it accuses of harbouring sympathies for and acting in the interest of the outlawed PKK, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union. The HDP denies the charges.

Since 2019, 48 of the 65 elected HDP mayors in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish eastern and southeastern regions have been removed from office by the Interior Ministry, citing "terror" investigations, while thousands of HDP party members have been subjected to political persecution and imprisonment on “terrorism” charges.

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