HDP’s Demirtaş campaigns from his prison cell

Selahattin Demirtaş, former People’s Democratic Party's (HDP) co-chair and the pro-Kurdish party's candidate in approaching presidential elections said that he has not even have eye contact with anyone in prison other than his cellmate, according to an interview with Cumhuriyet newspaper on Monday. 

Demirtaş shares his prison cell with another imprisoned former HDP deputy MP, Abdullah Zeydan. “Me and Abdullah Zeydan have never had even eye contact with any other inmates in prison. We play basketball for one hour indoors and football for one hour on an artificial pitch every week,” Demirtaş told Cumhuriyet newspaper, adding that the two cellmates are always alone. 

Demirtaş also added that, although he was in prison, he has had a very heavy schedule since being nominated, sleeping only 4-5 hours every night. Since his campaign began he has joked on social media about organising election rallies every day in his cell by talking to Abdullah Zeydan.

Demirtaş runs his campaign mainly on social media, with messages he passes to visitors being posted on Twitter. Yesterday, he responded to Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan, who had criticised Demirtaş’s humorous style on social media. 

“You are right,” Demirtaş said to Ahmet Hakan. “I was abducted almost 20 months ago one night from my house and was jailed although I was innocent. Moreover, I am a presidential candidate. As you said, the situation is not funny. And I am not posting those tweets for you to ‘laugh’, but for you to ‘see’.”

Demirtaş has been in jail since November 2016, charged with membership of a terrorist organisation and with making terrorist propaganda, both in relation to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been fighting inside Turkey for more than 30 years.