May 19 2018

I sip tea while my opponents toil - jailed pro-Kurdish party presidential candidate

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate, in a humorous Twitter post from jail, where he has been held for 18 months, said he feels badly that he sips on tea all day while his opponents in the upcoming presidential election are hard at work campaigning, independent news site Diken reported.

HDP candidate  Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been in pre-trial detention since Nov. 4, 2016 and may face decades in jail on a string of terrorism-related charges, is up against leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce, nationalist right-wing İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener and leftist nationalist Patriotic (Vatan) Party leader Doğu Perinçek among others, in the June 24 presidential elections which will usher in a new presidential system approved narrowly in last year’s referendum.

The jailed HDP candidate took to Twitter on Friday and said:

‘’While the other opponents are rushing from one city square to the next, it’s unfair that I’m here. Here I am sitting back and sipping on my tea, while they are going through all the suffering. I feel so badly about all of them. I hope they forgive me for this injustice.’’

Demirtaş’s lawyers earlier this month applied for his release ahead of the June 24 elections. There are no legal restrictions preventing the 44-year-old from standing in the presidential election.

Other candidates have criticized Demirtaş’s imprisonment in the run up to the polls, citing inequality in campaigning for the presidential race.