On February 21, 2017, People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was sentenced to five months in prison on charges of “humiliating the Turkish nation, the Turkish Republic, the state and institutions of the state.” The charges stem from a speech Demirtaş gave during Nevruz celebrations in Doğubayazit, Ağri, on March 19, 2016. Demirtaş, who is still being held under arrest on other charges, appeared in a Doğubayazit courtroom electronically from the Edirne F Type Prison, where he is still being held on other charges.The court sentenced Demirtaş to five months’ imprisonment.
On the same day, HDP co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ was stripped of her status as a member of parliament. Yüksekdağ, who has been under arrest since November 4, 2016, was stripped of her MP duties in relation to her conviction on charges of terror propaganda. The charges against Yüksekdağ concerned her attendance at the 2012 funeral for Yasemin Çiftçi, a member of the MLKP (Marxist Leninist Communist Party), which is considered a terror organization. Çiftçi was killed when a handmade explosive detonated in Istanbul in 2012. Yüksekdağ, who was not a member of parliament at the time of the funeral, denied knowledge of Çiftçi’s involvement in a terror organization. Yüksekdağ was one of seven defendants convicted in the case, and was given a sentence of 10 months.
The court’s decisions regarding both MPs were read aloud in parliament on Tuesday. The decision to strip Yüksekdağ of her status as a member of parliament was announced and published on the website of the Turkish Parliament (TBMM).
Melike Gül Demir