Istanbul mayor İmamoğlu wishes to visit jailed pro-Kurdish deputy Demirtaş

The newly elected mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, on Wednesday said he would like to visit the jailed former leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş.

‘’Like everyone else, I would like to know why he is under arrest. And I am saying that I stand beside anyone who has been victimised by the law, and that his process must come to an end… If I have the opportunity, I would like to visit him,” independent news site T24 quoted the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s Istanbul mayor as saying in reference to Demirtaş. 

İmamoğlu has been lauded for his inclusive discourse, which breaks away from the staunchly secularist CHP line to include Turkey’s Kurds and conservatives. The pro-Kurdish HDP supported İmamoğlu in the Istanbul mayoral votes as part of a joint opposition effort to win Turkey’s largest city.

HDP former co-chair Demirtaş was arrested in November 2016 and remains in jail facing possible jail sentences totalling more than 100 years on a range of terrorism charges.

Demirtaş, like many figures from the HDP, has been accused of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has been in armed conflict with Turkish armed forces since the breakdown of a peace process in 2015.

Kurds, who make up roughly 15 percent of Turkey’s population, were at the heart of the March 31 local election campaigns in Turkey.