Aug 06 2019

Social media campaign for Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş

A group calling themselves the “Free Demirtaş Initiative” launched a social media campaign demanding freedom for imprisoned former Co-chair for Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş, reported left-leaning news site Duvar on Tuesday.

The campaign was launched with a photograph of Sadiye Demirtaş, the popular Kurdish politician’s mother, holding a sign that read “#freeDemirtas”. Another hashtag used by participants is #FreeThemAll, referring to Demirtaş’s co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ and the thousands of HDP members awaiting trial in prisons.

Among participants of the social media campaign are journalist Can Dündar, human rights campaigner and lawyer Eren Keskin, member of the German parliament Cem Özdemir, German Die Linke’s Co-chair Katja Kipping and Dutch MEP Kati Piri.

Accused of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), among other terrorism-related charges, Selahattin Demirtaş faces up to 142 years in prison, and has already served three years since 2016.

Demirtaş was convicted in one of the charges against him for a speech he gave in 2005. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in July 2019 that the conviction was a violation of the politician’s right to free speech. 

The ruling came after another decree by the court in November 2018 that Demirtaş’s detention throughout two crucial elections had stifled pluralism and limited political debate.

Days after the ECHR ruling in July, a Turkish court ruled for the continuation of Demirtaş’s arrest.

The next hearing for Demirtaş’s case at the ECHR will be held on September 18.