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Turkey’s Kurdish party HDP elects replacement for jailed leader

Pro-Kurdish HDP elects new co-chair

HDP’s 3rd extraordinary congress held on Saturday to elect the new co-chair in place of Figen Yüksekdağ, who had been stripped of parliamentary and party membership.

A case had been filed against Figen Yüksekdağ on charges of “violating the law on public meetings and demonstrations”, “provoking the public to hatred, hostility”, “provoking to commit crime” and the prosecutor asked up to 83 years imprisonment for her.

The Supreme Court had revoked Yüksekdağ’s parliamentary and party membership in February after being convicted on terrorism-related charges.

HDP held an extraordinary congress to fill the vacant co-chair post and elected Serpil Kemalbay as the new co-chair.

Kemalbay’s background

Kemalbay was serving as the vice co-chair of the party responsible for labor and relations with trade unions. She is among the founders of the IMECE (Woman Solidarity Foundation) and the Istanbul and Thrace branches of the BATIS (Union of Independent Textile Workers). She worked in different trade unions as a consultant on labor security, workers’ health and women workers’ rights.

Demirtaş sent a message to the congress

Imprisoned co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş sent a message to the congress underlining  “values of the Republic” and “common homeland”. He also wrote: “It is time to voice more loudly our hopes for the peace buried[by the government] in the Dolmabahçe Palace”.

He refers to the Dolmabahçe Palace where the last round of the peace negotiations on Turkey’s decades-long Kurdish problem took place between the government and HDP officials.

Bulent Korkmaz

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