Jailed Kurdish politician Demirtaş refuses to call for release citing gov’t plot

The imprisoned former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş said he was a political hostage and he would not demand to be released, news site Duvar reported on Monday.

There would be no point to demanding a release in a country where the rule of law is not in effect, said the 46-year-old politician.

“At a time when the law is trampled, elected officials are jailed, and murderers and rapists are set free, I do not demand my release,” Demirtaş said.

In early December, Demirtaş suffered symptoms similar to a heart attack in his prison cell, leading to public outcry for his release on medical grounds.

“The decision for my arrest was not made by judges, it won’t be lifted by judges,” Demirtaş said during his defence statement in a case where he is charged with incitement to violence.

The former HDP leader is facing several lawsuits on charges related to terrorism with prosecutors demanding up to 142 years in prison, and has been in pre-trial detention since November 2016 despite orders by Turkish and European courts for his release.

Demirtaş said he was a political hostage, kept in prison by open orders and direction by the government. 

“A blatant plot against [me and my colleagues] has been set up by the hand of politics and through the judiciary, and this arrest is a continuation of that plot,” Demirtaş added.