Turkey considers calling Demirtas a “terrorist” as freedom of expression

Turkey considers calling Demirtas a “terrorist” as freedom of expression
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Turkish prosecutors rejected Kurdish politician’s complaint, citing ECHR provisions and decisions

Turkey that refuses to implement the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling over imprisoned politician Selahattin Demirtas that says his rights including freedom of expression were violated, cited the European court’s decisions on the same topic to reject Kurdish politician’s criminal complaint over a banner, calling him a terrorist.

Pro-Kurdish HDP’s former co-chair Demirtas has filed a criminal complaint over the banners that were hung in various parts of Tokat province by the city’s ultranationalist Grey Wolves calling him a terrorist, stating that the crimes of "insulting and inciting the public to hatred and enmity" were committed.

The prosecutors rejected Demirtas’complaint, evaluating the banners within the scope of “freedom of expression”, Gazete Duvar reported.

In the justification for non-prosecution, the provisions and decisions of the ECHR on freedom of expression and the article of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of expression were cited, the news website said.

Demirtas remains behind bars since his arrest in November 2016 and faces around 150 years in prison over several terrorism charges. The ECHR in December 2020 called on Turkey to immediately release the Kurdish politician, saying that his detention lacked evidence. The ECHR’s Grand Chamber ruled that Demirtas’ imprisonment was politically motivated and his imprisonment violated his rights under five different categories, including freedom of expression and liberty.

Calling the top European courts’ ruling over Demirtas as “null and void”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2021 said Turkey will not recognise such decisions.

The number of cases concerning rights violations in Turkey is the highest of any country that signed the European Convention on Human Rights.

A spokesperson for the Council of Europe (CoE) told Reuters that the ECHR rulings awaiting implementation by Turkey amounted to 521 as of November.

ECHR data shows that it delivered a total of 3,820 judgments regarding Turkey between 1959 and 2021, and 3,385 of those include rights violations. It signifies a record number of cases among the 46 members states that signed the European Convention on Human Rights.