Turkish prison officials censoring Kurdish politician Demirtaş’s letters, says wife

Prison officials in Turkey’s northwestern province of Edirne have censored letters sent by Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), his wife Başak Demirtaş said on Wednesday.

Başak shared photos on social media of what appeared to be redacted letters penned by the politician, along with a caption asking the Justice Ministry, “What’s next?” 

“In person visits have been shelved. Nor are there means to have a video call. And now censorship,’’ she wrote.

The former HDP co-chair has been jailed since November 2016 over a string of terror-related charges, including links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an armed struggle for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984.

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of sympathising with and acting in the interest of the PKK and has carried out a years-long crackdown on the political party.

Moreover, Ankara has refused to comply with a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demanding Demirtaş’s release. 

In 2018, the ECHR ruled that Demirtaş’s confinement without new evidence would amount to continued violations of Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Demirtaş faces dozens of charges which, if combined, could exceed 140 years in prison sentences.