EP Turkey rapporteur says concerned for Demirtaş’s health following prison visit

Turkey rapporteur for the European Parliament (EP) Nacho Sanchez Amor has said he is concerned for the health of Kurdish lawmaker Selahattin Demirtaş after recently visiting him in prison.

The string of procedures the former leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is subject to are a means of keeping him behind bars, Sanchez Amor told Euro News Turkish.

"I recently visited Demirtaş in jail. I was greatly worried about his health concerns,’’  Sanchez Amor said. 

Demirtaş underwent delayed medical screening earlier this month after fainting in his cell on Nov. 26. The incident followed his complaints of chest tightness and difficulty breathing, symptoms similar to a heart attack. 

The 46-year-old lawmaker has been jailed since Nov. 2016 on multiple terrorism charges related to alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed group that has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984. Demirtaş and the HDP maintain the Turkish government has used its control of the country’s judiciary to remove a political rival.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered last year for Turkey to release Demirtaş from prison, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the ECHR rulings were not binding.

Sanchez Amor also responded to a question on the imprisonment of Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala, who is accused of attempting to overthrow the government.

Prosecutors accuse Kavala of masterminding the Gezi Park protests of 2013, the biggest anti-government demonstrations since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist-leaning party came to power in 2002. He has been in prison since November 2017.

"Gezi was a protest… comparing this to a coup? This is why the decorative changes Turkish authorities make in their laws are of no use in Europe,’’ he said.