Kilicdaroglu: "Selahattin Demirtas is a political prisoner"
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Turkish main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said in an interview that Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), is a "political prisoner" and should be immediately released.
Speaking to journalist Murat Sabuncu, Kilicdaroglu said:
“The incarceration of Selahattin Demirtas is unjust. He is a political prisoner. I want him to be released as soon as possible. Despite his incarceration, Demirtas does not abandon his path, defends democracy with great determination, and expresses that the parliament should be an effective institution. His views are precious.”
Kilicdaroglu added that Osman Kavala, the human rights defender who has been imprisoned since 2017 despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordering his release -similar to its decision in the case of Demirtas- should also be immediately released as well.
Demirtas was stripped of his parliamentary status and arrested in November 2016 while he was serving as the co-chair of the HDP.
2016 constitutional amendment
Kilicdaroğlu and CHP deputies actually played a part in the incarceration of Demirtas and other HDP deputies as they had voted in favor of a constitutional amendment in May 2016 which enabled them to be stripped of their parliamentary status and consequently of their parliamentary immunity.
This eventually led to their arrests in November 2016. Without CHP's support, the amendment could not have been ratified in the Turkish Parliament.
Kilicdaroglu had said before the vote that the amendment would be "unconstitutional," but they would still vote in favor.