19 March 2019

Turkey jails Kurdish MP for over 16 years

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A member of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish opposition party has been sentenced to over 16 years in jail over terrorism-related charges. reports citing Press TV.

Courthouse sources said Thursday that Idris Baluken, from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), had been sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in prison.

Baluken was first jailed in November 2016 pending trial. He was later released in January 2017 before being arrested again one month later.

The HDP lawmaker had been accused of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group that Turkey blames for decades of unrest in its south. Other members of the party, including its co-leaders, face similar charges. They deny the charges, saying they are victims of a crackdown by the Turkish government which was launched after a failed coup less than two years ago.

The HDP is the third largest party in the Turkish parliament. The main figure from the party affected by the crackdown is former co-leader Figen Yuksekdag who has been stripped of her parliamentary status and replaced as co-chairwoman.

HDP co-leader Serpil Kemalbay reacted to the verdict issued against Baluken, saying it showed how Ankara was misusing legal procedures to quash dissent.

"This sentence reflects anger against democracy and the fight for freedom. Justice is being used as a baton," Kemalbay said.

The sentence reignited international condemnation of Turkey’s post-coup crackdown, with European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri, calling it “a devastating sentence and continuation of the crackdown on opposition voices.”

More than 55,000 people, including 5,000 Kurds, have been jailed over alleged links to July 15, 2016, coup or other terrorism-related charges. Turkey has also dismissed around 150,000 people from their jobs over similar allegations.

2018.01.04 / 21:29
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