“Democracy in Turkey is going on trial”

40 academics, activists and members of the British Parliament have signed a letter to demand ‘immediate and unconditional’ release of Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the co-chairs of Turkey's majority-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), who were arrested more than a year ago.

Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ will stand trial on Dec. 6 and 7 on "trumped-up charges of terrorism, facing lengthy jail sentences", the letter said.

The letter, published in full by the British newspaper The Guardian, also said that besides the HDP's leaders, 85 mayors from the same party and some 10,000 activists remain in jail.

On 6 and 7 December democracy goes on trial in Turkey. Opposition politicians Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ will appear in court on trumped-up charges of terrorism, facing lengthy jail sentences. Their party, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) is the third largest in Turkey. In 2015 they won parliamentary seats for the first time, representing a breakthrough for progressive forces and democracy in the country.

However, the state of emergency in place since the July 2016 coup attempt has been used to clamp down on all forms of opposition in Turkey. In November 2016 HDP MPs across the country were taken from their homes and detained. Currently there are nine MPs from the HDP in Turkish prisons along with 85 mayors and an estimated 10,000 activists. Journalists, academics and public sector workers have been purged from their posts. One million people are displaced in Turkey’s largely Kurdish south-east with cities including Cizre and Nusaybin flattened. The prosecutions of Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ are nothing more than show trials. We send a message of solidarity to Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş and demand their immediate and unconditional release from prison.

Noam Chomsky Professor emeritus, MIT
Clive Lewis MP
David Lammy MP
Kate Osamor MP
Karen Lee MP
Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite
Laura Smith MP
Julie Ward MEP
Chris Williamson MP
Dr Kerem Nisancioglu SOAS, University of London and London Middle East Institute
Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper King’s College London
Dr Ayça Çubukçu Assistant professor, LSE Centre for Human Rights
Rosa Gilbert Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign
Steve Sweeney Journalist
Oktay Sahbaz Solidarity with the People of Turkey
Manuel Cortes TSSA General Secretary
Doug Nicholls GFTU General Secretary
Grahame Morris MP
Dan Carden MP
Ian Mearns MP
Sean Hoyle RMT President
Steve Hedley RMT Assistant General Secretary
Eddie Dempsey RMT National Executive Committee
Paul Glover Chair of Unison International Committee
Martin Powell-Davies London Regional Secretary, National Education Union
Louise Regan Joint National President, National Education Union
Rob Williams National Shop Stewards Network
Lindsey German Stop the War Coalition Convenor
John Rees Stop the War Coalition National Officer
Paul Maskey MP
Francie Molloy MP 
Michelle Gildernew MP 
Mickey Brady MP
Barry McElduff MP
Elisha McCallion MP
Chris Hazzard MP
Peter Tatchell Human Rights campaigner
Julie Hesmondhalgh Actor
Barry White Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom
Ben Chacko Editor, Morning Star 
Liz Davies