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Jailed vice chair of pro-Kurdish party writes letter of solidarity with Gaza

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Imprisoned former vice chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has written a letter of solidarity with the people in Gaza, saying Israel is carrying out a genocide against the Palestinians.

Jacobin, an American socialist magazine based in New York, on Friday published the letter by former HDP vice chair Alp Altınörs, who was convicted last month of inciting protests that led to 37 deaths during the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani.

Writing from his cell in a maximum-security prison in Ankara, Altınörs drew parallels between the Kurdish struggle against ISIL and the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, accusing Israel of committing genocide.

Altınörs was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison. He and other HDP leaders have faced harsh penalties under Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law, with charges stemming from their protests against the ISIL attack on Kobani in 2014. The court’s decision has been criticized internationally as a political move to suppress democratic expression and dissent.

In his letter Altınörs emphasized the shared values of solidarity and resistance against oppression, urging international support for Palestinians facing ongoing violence and displacement. He criticized the Turkish government’s crackdown on HDP members, noting that their call for protest against ISIL was within the bounds of political expression, as upheld by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

The lengthy sentences handed down to HDP leaders, including Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, have drawn global condemnation. Human rights organizations and political figures worldwide have criticized the verdicts as politically motivated and a violation of democratic principles.

Altınörs concluded his letter with a call for continued international solidarity, quoting Che Guevara as saying that solidarity is “the kindness of the oppressed.” The ongoing imprisonment of HDP leaders remains a symbol of the Turkish government’s broader crackdown on political dissent and minority rights.

The Kobani trial, which involved 108 former HDP politicians, has been a focal point for criticism against Turkey’s judicial system. The trial revolved around the HDP’s role in inciting protests during the ISIL siege of Kobani, which led to 37 deaths. The verdicts, announced in May, specified lengthy sentences for key HDP figures.

Selahattin Demirtaş received a 42-year sentence, while Figen Yüksekdağ was sentenced to over 30 years. Other notable sentences included 10 years for Ahmet Türk and 13 years for Ali Ürküt. The sentences have been widely condemned by international human rights organizations and political figures, who argue that the trial was politically motivated.

European Parliament members and various international organizations have called for consequences and urgent action, emphasizing the need for judicial independence and respect for human rights in Turkey. The European Court of Human Rights has also ruled for the release of Demirtaş, a decision that Turkey has so far ignored.

The Gaza Strip is suffering a humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s military campaign against Hamas that has been going on since October 7, with the United Nations and aid agencies warning of impending famine.

On October 7 Hamas carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel that resulted in the death of roughly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and some 250 people taken hostage.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 37,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry, and has devastated the Gaza Strip.

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