Arabic | Kurdish

Court in Turkey upholds 200 months in prison for Kurdish MP, blocks re-election

2018/05/23 | 21:50

(Iraq Now News)- ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Just one month short of Turkish elections in which a battered opposition hopes to end what critics say is an increasingly authoritarian president’s rule, a higher court on Wednesday upheld a prison sentence of 16 years and eight months for the already detained Kurdish lawmaker Idris Baluken.

Baluken, a figure who took an instrumental role in the 2013-2015 peace negotiations between Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels, had received the sentence earlier this year over various statements, speeches, and demonstrations.

The regional court in the city of Gaziantep convicted him of crimes of “membership in a terrorist organization, propaganda for terrorism, and violation of the law on assembly and protests.”

A February-released 83-page indictment against him cited at great extent Baluken’s speeches at public rallies over the years, concluding his calling PKK fighters “guerrilla” and his praise of “self-rule and freedom for Kurdistan” were outlawed propaganda.

His bid to be re-elected as a lawmaker from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the upcoming June 24 general and presidential elections has thus been marred.

Fellow MP Imam Tascier, himself facing the possibility of up to 18 years of imprisonment for similar charges, told Kurdistan 24 over the phone that Baluken could not run, and the HDP had to nominate someone else in his stead in the election list of the city of Batman.

Baluken, a surgeon and expert in pulmonary diseases and tuberculosis by profession before his entry into politics, continues to represent the major Kurdish province of Diyarbakir at the Turkish Parliament.

However, he now faces the prospects of losing his seat once President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-dominated national assembly acts to oust him as other trials against him go on.

Eleven HDP lawmakers have already been kicked out of the Parliament.

A massive, ongoing crackdown on the Kurdish movement began in late 2016 with the arrest of high-profile politicians including Baluken and the party’s former Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, a rival of the incumbent President Erdogan.

Last week, the Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by Baluken’s lawyer who argued against their clients’ continued detention.

The highest court’s judges opined that there was no violation of individual liberty, security and a citizen’s right to get elected to a public office. 

There was no immediate reaction from the HDP about the sentencing of Baluken who authorities keep at an Ankara prison since his detention.

He was released last year, only to be arrested again three weeks later.

It had previously labeled the case against him and its other members, of whom over 5,000 people including lawmakers, 80 mayors remain jailed, politically motivated and unlawful.

“Members of the judiciary have once again been used as mere tools in political set-ups.

From a legal perspective, each and every one of these indictments are mockeries [sic].

They display absolutely no legal value; are based on unfounded allegations and brazen lies,” an HDP statement back in January read.

“Judiciary acts as a baton of the government.

There is no longer a judicial system to speak of, and there is no longer a platform left to discuss such issues with arguments that refer to the law,” it said, adding Ankara was choking chances of a peaceful settlement with the Kurdish people.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

Note: The post (Court in Turkey upholds 200 months in prison for Kurdish MP, blocks re-election) appeared first on (Kurdistan 24) and do not necessarily reflect the position of
You can read the original text from the source (Kurdistan 24).

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