Jailed Kurdish politicians shave heads in support of Iran’s Amini protests

The jailed former head of the Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş and former HDP mayor Selçuk Mızraklı have shaved their heads in a show of support for the protests in Iran sparked by the death of Kurdish woman Masha Amini.

The death of Amini in police custody last week after being detained by Iran’s morality police for wearing attire that was deemed a violation of the law in the Islamic republic has sparked nation-wide protest against the Iranian government. At least 17 people have been killed in the protests as of Thursday, according to Iran's state-run media.

“We feel Mahsa Amini’s pain who was massacred by Iranian morality police just because a strand of her hair was visible,” Demirtaş said in a hand-written letter shared by his wife Başak Demirtaş on Twitter.

The HDP politician said he and his fellow inmate Selçuk Mızraklı had shaved their to heads to “support the struggle of equality and freedom pioneered by women,” and display their "solidarity with the people of Iran."

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of harbouring sympathies and acting in the interest of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group that has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for 40 years.  The HDP denies the charges.

Demirtaş has been behind bars since 2016 and faces hundreds of years in prison on a string of charges linked to the PKK. Elected co-mayor of the largely Kurdish Diyarbakir municipality in the local elections in March 2019, Mızraklı was  removed from post by the state in August of the same year and sentenced to jail on PKK-linked charges in 2020.

Twenty-two-year-old Amini was arrested last week while her family was visiting capital Tehran. She was accused of  wearing "unsuitable attire" and died in detention after three days, with officials saying she suffered a heart attack. But critics maintain the Kurdish woman was beaten after an image surfaced of her bruised, bloodied and intubated body. 

Meanwhile, police in capital Ankara intervened in a demonstration by HDP supporters in support of Iran protests, Duvar news site reported on Friday.

Police formed a barricade around the Iran Embassy in Ankara, where protesters gathered to release a statement, it said, forcing the group to relocate to the entrance of the capital’s HDP headquarters.

This block is broken or missing. You may be missing content or you might need to enable the original module.