European parliamentarians launch campaign for release of jailed Kurdish leader

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European parliamentarians have launched a campaign demanding the release of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, who is still in prison despite two rulings from the European Court of Human Rights for his immediate release, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Evin İncir, a Swedish politician of Kurdish descent for the Social Democrat Party and a member of the European Parliament, said in a statement that the former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is being held in jail on trumped-up and politically motivated charges and hence should be released.

“We waited for Turkey to respect the ECtHR rulings, but Turkey has refused to observe the ECtHR rulings, which are binding. So I took action in January and submitted a motion to the European Parliament for a resolution [about Demirtaş],” she said.

İncir said 590 of the 705 parliamentarians voted in favor of the motion, which calls for Demirtaş’s immediate release.

“Lawmakers from the 47 members of the Council of Europe have signed the campaign. We sent the signatures to the European Parliament Council of Ministers. The issue will be taken up by in the council at a meeting on March 10,” İncir said.

Demirtaş has been in prison since November 2016 on politically motivated charges in spite of two binding rulings in favor of his release by the ECtHR. The Turkish government still refuses to release Demirtaş, and a Turkish court on January 7 accepted a new indictment against him and 107 others calling for life sentences in relation to the Kobani protests of 2014.

Demirtaş had called for street protests in support of Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Kobani while accusing Ankara of failing to provide adequate help to Kobani and of supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which had laid siege to the town.

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