EP rapporteur calls for release of jailed pro-Kurdish party candidate

The European Parliament (EP) Turkey rapporteur has called for the release of jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş ahead of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, independent news site t24 reported.

Kati Piri took to Facebook on Monday, highlighting that Demirtaş, who has been in pre-trial detention for 19 months and faces a string of terror-related charges, is campaigning from his prison cell. 

The 44 -year-old former HDP co-chair is one of 11 jailed members of the country’s pro-Kurdish party.

“Other candidates, such as Muharrem Ince (CHP) and Meral Aksener (IYI), have called for his release. Only then can there be a fair campaign. That seems to me to be a demand that all democrats must support.” Piri said, echoing the calls made by Turkey’s opposition figures for the release of Demirtaş during his presidential campaign.

EU-Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn last month said that Turkey’s upcoming elections would not be fair under the ongoing state of emergency rule that was implemented following the July 15, 2016 coup, pointing to the chokehold over freedom of expression in Turkey.

Turkey heads to the polls on June 24 for elections which will usher in a new presidential system that was narrowly approved in last year’s referendum and will grant increased powers to the president.