Turkish court orders travel ban for opposition politician, releases 53 protesters

An Istanbul court has ruled to release pro-Kurdish opposition politician Elif Bulut on parole, with an additional travel ban against her leaving the district she lives in.

Bulut, the Istanbul provincial co-chair of the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said in a series of tweets on Tuesday that she and other protesters spent four days in police custody, hungry and in the cold, following her detention over participation in a protest.

Turkish police detained 65 people on Feb. 4 initially, over what prosecutors said were illegal protests in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district, which leans heavily secular and is often home to anti-government protests.

Four detainees were released on the same night because they were minors, and another eight were released after testifying at the prosecutor’s office.

The prosecutor demanded arrest for 33 detainees, but courts released all remaining 53 people on parole, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

“Out of the 61, nobody was arrested but nobody was freed either,” Bulut said. Most detainees were given a combination of house arrest and foreign travel bans, and will have to show up daily at a police station to sign in.

“In an unprecedented sentencing, I was issued a district travel ban,” Bulut added. “As the provincial co-chair, I can’t leave the district I live in.”

The detainees had participated in a demonstration in support of the Boğaziçi University protests, as part of a newly-established umbrella organisation for left-leaning parties and other bodies called the United Forces of Struggle (BMG).

Two BMG members were detained again by anti-terror units after they were released from the court house, union news portal Sendika.org reported.

“This is the judicial reform,” Bulut said. “They arrest you in your own home for a crime that doesn’t call for a prison sentence, in an attempt to stop you engaging in politics.”