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HDP deputy Önder sent to prison after sentence upheld by appeals court

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Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder was sent to prison after his three year, six month sentence was upheld by an İstanbul regional appeals court, the T24 news website reported on Thursday.

Önder, who arrived at the Kocaeli Courthouse to complete paperwork for the execution of his sentence, announced that he was prepared to surrender himself to a prison in Kandıra.

“We are behind everything that we said. Salutations to all friends. Peace and democracy will prevail,” Önder told journalists before his entry to the prison.

The HDP member was tried on charges of terrorism, along with former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who was already in pretrial detention.

Accused of spreading terrorist propaganda in speeches they gave during celebrations for the spring festival of Nevroz in İstanbul in March 2013, the two deputies faced prosecution under anti-terrorism legislation after their parliamentary immunity was lifted.

T24 reported that Önder’s release on probation is foreseen on July 19, 2021 and his full release will be on June 3, 2022.

The Turkish government’s crackdown on the Kurdish political movement began in late 2016 with the arrest of high profile politicians, including the party’s then co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş, which led to the detention of thousands of HDP members including dozens of elected mayors of predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces who were replaced by government-appointed trustees.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), for several years until a truce in effect collapsed in the summer of 2015. Since then, there have been clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.

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