Top Turkish court says jailed Kurdish politician Yüksekdağ’s rights violated

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the rights of the former co-chairwoman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were violated in connection with the 2017 stripping of her parliamentary seat on terror charges, Duvar news site reported on Saturday.

The decision to strip Figen Yüksekdağ of her status as member of parliament following her sentencing over her participation in a 2012 funeral in the southern Adana province, was a violation of her right to freedom of thought and expression, as well as right to be elected and engage in political activities, the court ruled.

A Turkish court in November 2013 sentenced Yüksekdağ to 10 months in prison on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda for participating in 2012 in the funeral of a member of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) group, affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The former HDP chairwoman lost her party membership in February 2017, after parliamentary immunity was lifted in March 2016 over the conviction. Yüksekdağ was one of 12 HDP lawmakers detained terrorism charges in November 2016 and has been imprisoned since.

Ankara maintains the HDP is an affiliate of the militant PKK, which has waged an armed insurgency in the largely Kurdish southeast for more than three decades and has led a years-long crackdown on the party, which is the third largest in Turkish parliament. The HDP denies direct links to the PKK.

The Constitutional Court has ordered Yüksekdağ be paid 30,000 liras ($1,724) in damages, Duvar said.

Dozens of elected HDP lawmakers and mayors, and thousands of party members have been arrested on terror-related accusations as part Ankara’s crackdown on the HDP. Several HDP mayors who were elected in 2019 have replaced by state-appointed officials.

The PKK is considered a terror organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The armed group has led a four-decade long insurgency, in which tens of thousands of people, mostly Kurdish civilians, have been killed.

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