Mar 21 2019

Turkey bars entry to French delegation aiming to present award to Demirtaş


Two French nationals seeking to enter Turkey to present the Montluc Resistance and Liberty Award to Selahattin Demirtaş, the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) former co-chair, were held in a windowless room at Istanbul airport for 40 hours before being deported, independent Turkish news site Bianet reported on Thursday.

Two French nationals, who were also invited to the southeastern province of Diyarbakır to take part in the popular Kurdish spring festival of Newroz to represent the French Communist Party, were detained on Tuesday at Istanbul Atatürk Airport.

Turkey has also detained on Wednesday a legation of Norwegian activists who travelled to the southeastern province  of Diyarbakır to join Newroz celebrations.

The French award was announced last month to honor Demirtaş’ book of short stories, “Dawn: Stories”. The book has sold thousands of copies and gained celebrity readers since its publication in September 2017, with revenue from the book’s sales going toward education.

Emmanuelle Collas publishing, which hands out the Montluc Award, assigned Michel Laurent and Sylvie Jan to deliver the award to Başak Demirtaş, the wife of the politician, who has been in jail for more than two years.

Their attorneys Ayşe Acınıklı and Mahmut Erol released a written statement on Wednesday.

"Laurent and Jan were not allowed to enter Turkey...because Laurent was banned from entering the country. Jan feared to leave Laurent alone and also did not enter Turkey,” Demirtaş’ attorneys said in a statement, adding that they were blocked from meeting their clients and given no explanation for why the Governor of İstanbul banned Laurent from Turkey.

"Our clients have unlawfully not been allowed to enter Turkey,” the lawyers added. “As if this was not enough, they have been held in a windowless room for 40 hours, until their deportation.”