Jailed, dementia-suffering Kurdish politician hospitalized

Jailed Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk was hospitalized and is undergoing treatment in emergency care, BirGün newspaper reported on Friday.

The former chairwoman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP),who suffers from dementia, was taken to a nearby hospital from a prison in northwestern Kocaeli province late Thursday, it said.

The former co-chair of the HDP has been held in a high-security prison for over five years on multiple terrorism charges. The 57-year-old was arrested in December 2016  and was diagnosed with dementia in February 2021 while behind bars.

The terror charges against the human rights lawyer stem from speeches she delivered at various rallies during her time as chairwoman of the now-shuttered Democratic Society Party (DTP), and while serving as lawmaker for the DTP and the HDP. 

She is serving a 10-year sentence on charges of  "committing a crime on behalf of the armed terrorist organization" and "conducting propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization.’’ Tuğluk denies the charges.

Her lawyers and family have repeatedly called for Tuğluk’s release, citing her deteriorating health. They say the former HDP official’s health problems began in 2017 deteriorated greatly by 2021. But Turkish courts, including the Constitutional Court, have rejected appeals for your release, citing a report by the Istanbul Institute of Forensic Medicine (ATK), saying she could remain in prison with routine visits to clinics.

Tuğluk contracted COVID-19 and was suffering from severe symptoms, BirGün cited HDP co chair Figen Yüksekdağ as saying on Friday.

“She was taken to the emergency department today. The adverse conditions of detention cause her health to get worse,” Yüksekdağ said.

Activists, politicians, and human rights groups have been calling for the release of the former HDP chair release since late last year.

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