Jun 08 2018

Demirtaş to give campaign speeches from prison

Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), will make two speeches for the Jun. 24 election from a studio set up by the Turkish public broadcaster TRT in Edirne Prison, where he is held pending trial on terror charges.

Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu reported on Thursday that Demirtaş would be transported to the TRT studios to give the two ten-minute speeches on Jun. 17 and 23.

A decision from the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) announced on Friday contradicted these reports, however, stating that a special studio would be set up within the prison for Demirtaş to give the speech.

The HDP announced the YSK’s ruling on social media shortly after it was made, calling it a “shameful decision.”

Demirtaş has so far been forced to conduct his entire electoral campaign from prison, where he is held accused of making propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, an organisation which has sought Kurdish self-rule through armed struggle since the 1980s.

The HDP candidate previously applied unsuccessfully to the YSK for permission to use his 10-minute weekly telephone allowance to call in to “Leaders on Fox,” a political talk show which is hosting candidates and leaders of various parties competing in the upcoming elections.

Demirtaş has nevertheless made spirited and humorous use of social media, his only way to regularly reach the electorate, passing messages to visitors who upload them in his name.

Through this means he was able on Friday to answer dozens of questions put to him by Twitter users in a social media Q&A session under the hashtags #AskDemirtaş and its Turkish equivalent, #DemirtaşaSoruyorum.