The incoming German government should pursue policies more dedicated to European values and human rights, and have a larger focus on human rights in Turkey, Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş told the German Press Agency (dpa) in an interview.
Demirtaş answered dpa’s questions via his lawyer on the fifth anniversary of his imprisonment over terrorism charges, dpa international reported.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “does not represent the entirety of Turkey”, he said.
The former co-chair of the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was arrested in 2016, alongside his co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ and several HDP deputies, over alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey designates as terrorist.
“Neither I nor our party has any direct or indirect ties or relations with the PKK,” Demirtaş told dpa, adding that the pro-Kurdish party stands for democratic and peaceful means.
Erdoğan has “not shied away from directing feelings of hatred and vengeance” towards Demirtaş, he said, speaking about the case where he faces up to 142 years in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organisation and terrorist propaganda.
Demirtaş is also indicted in a case against the HDP, where the prosecutor for Turkey’s Court of Cassation seeks to shut down the party and ban hundreds of its top officials from politics.
The case to shut down the HDP is “part of an operation to intimidate the opposition”, Demirtaş told dpa. According to the Kurdish politician, Erdoğan personally tasked prosecutors and judges for the case, and holds the judiciary under his control. “In this sense, it is not possible for there to be a just trial or a lawful verdict,” he said.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Grand Chamber has ruled that Turkey was in violation of Demirtaş’s rights, and that his arrest had been “politically-motivated”. The top court also ruled for the immediate release of Demirtaş, but Turkey has not complied.
HDP deputy Tülay Hatimoğulları, speaking at the budget hearings in parliament on Thursday, said Turkey’s relations with the European Union would not improve “as long as the Demirtaş ruling is not implemented”.
— CAN TV (@cantv_tv) November 4, 2021
“We are all paying the price of the law being trampled underfoot,” Demirtaş’s wife, Başak Demirtaş said in a video message she shared for the anniversary.