Jailed Kurdish politician Demirtaş denied visit by children, says wife

Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş has not been allowed to see both of his children together since the COVID-19 outbreak, his wife Başak Demirtaş said on Tuesday.

Demirtaş, who is jailed on terror charges in the northwestern province of Edirne, was only permitted to see his two daughters once and separately since March, Demirtaş said on Twitter.

The former co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was arrested on November 4, 2016, along with 12 other HDP parliamentary deputies, on charges of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed militant group that has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984.

Despite several court orders to release Demirtaş, both by domestic Turkish courts as by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Demirtaş remains behind bars in the high security prison of Edirne, west of Istanbul.

The couple’s daughters Delal and Dılda were not allowed to see their father together as part of measures by the Edirne prison to curb the spread of COVID-19, Demirtaş said.

“Open visits have been banned due to measures taken against the coronavirus measures,’’ Demirtaş said, “but why are you preventing closed visits? And if so, why do you not allow the right for phone calls?’’

Demirtaş also questioned why the country’s political prisoners had not been released as part of coronavirus measures.

The Turkish government excluded jailed journalists and dissidents from an amnesty approved in April that paved the way for up to one-third of the country’s 300,000 prisoners to be released amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“If there is a risk of the coronavirus, then why won’t you release politicians and journalists, who have unjustly placed in prison and those whose lives are in danger?’’ she said.