Demirtas, Kavala and others wish for "justice" and "freedom" in 2023
Imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, wished for "a year of freedom" in his new year message on Saturday, that was viewed over 800,000 times in a couple of hours
Demirtas, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), has been incarcerated since November 2016, and is denied release despite a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Demirtas is accused of instigation deadly violence in the context of 2014 "Kobani protests" which were staged in solidarity with Syria's Kurdish city of Kobani that was besieged and under constant attack by the Islamic State (ISIS) at the time. On HDP's call peaceful demonstrations were held, followed by violent incidents that left many dead, most of them HDP supporters.
Imprisoned human rights defender Osman Kavala expressed his hopes for the new year via a deputy who visited him and three other political prisoners on the last day of 2022.
Kavala told Utku Cakirozer, deputy for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP):
"This is my sixth new year's eve in prison. I hope Turkey moves towards democracy and the rule of law next year, and lawless practices cease. I wish that we see days in the new year when people are not arbitrarily jailed and do not wait for the arrival of death in their prison cells, when women in the street and mine workers are not killed, when we start inhaling freedom. Let it be a year in which lawless practices, injustice and brutality faced by people is eradicated."
Kavala has been incarcerated since October 2017, and denied release despite ECHR's ruling in December 2019 that the European Convention on Human Rights was violated, and that he should be immediately released.
On 25 April 2022, an Istanbul court found Kavala guilty of attempting to overthrow the Government through force and violence (in the context of peaceful Gezi protests in 2013), and sentenced him to aggravated life imprisonment. An appeals court recently upheld the decision on Wednesday.
Alongside Kavala, seven others were sentenced to 18 years in prison for "aiding an attempt to overthrow the constitutional order." They are urban planner Tayfun Kahraman, film maker Cigdem Mater, founder of the The European School of Politics Hakan Altinay, architect Mucella Yapici, film maker Mine Ozerden, lawyer Can Atalay and Bilgi University co-founder Yigit Ali Ekmekci.
Deputy Cakirozer also conveyed the new year message of Tayfun Kahraman, who said:
"There's no reason to be pessimistic, no reason to be skeptical. 2023 will be a very beautiful year, a very bright one, no matter what they do. We believe in this with all our hearts."
Hakan Altinay: said:
"A year in which we have been confronted by cruelty, idiocy and evil is about to be left behind. 2023 will be a year of goodness, solidarity and virtue. Red poppies, daisies and mirabilis will blossom across Turkey.
Can Atalay said:
"We do not let ourselves get pessimistic. We see the light at the end of darkness. It doesn't matter whether we are in prison or outside, we nevertheless patiently continue to do whatever we can to overcome darkness."