ECHR to announce critical decision on jailed pro-Kurdish MP Demirtaş

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday will announce its decision on the ongoing arrest of former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş, who was jailed in November 2016 on terror-linked charges, independent news site T24 reported.

The 44-year-old, who unsuccessfully ran in Turkey's June 24 presidential election prison cell, was arrested on Nov.4,  2016, along with many other members of the HDP, over links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has been in armed conflict with Turkish armed forces for over 30 years. 

The decision of the ECHR carries great significance for Turkey; if the court finds that Demirtaş’s arrest to be based on his political identity, then Turkey will be found guilty of violating the European Human Rights Convention, T24 said.

Demirtaş, who faces a maximum combined sentence of 183 years, applied to the Turkish Constitutional Court along with other members of the HPD, saying his arrest was unconstitutional and a “violation of individual freedom and safety, freedom of expression and election right.”

Citing a failure by the Turkish court to carry out an investigation, the HDP members then appealed to the ECHR in Feb. 2017.

Since July 2015, 11,631 of the 37,551 members of the HDP have been detained, and 3,382 have been formally arrested, following the ceasefire between Kurdish militants and the Turkish state collapsed.

A total of 55 of the party’s 59 parliamentarians are presently facing legal charges against them.

Ankara accuses HDP's politicians of harbouring sympathies and acting in the interest of the PKK.