Former co-chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş, imprisoned now for almost five years, has been granted the 2021 Weimar Human Rights Award. The Göttingen-based Society for Threatened Peoples International (STPI) has announced that it has accepted the Weimar City Council’s proposal, Deutsche Welle-Turkish reports.
Announcing the award the statement said that Demirtaş is “one of the most important opposition politicians in Turkey’s recent history”, and that he has advocated for “a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, democratisation, freedom of belief for Christian, Alevi and Yezidi faith groups” and “equal rights for the Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian and Greek people in Turkey in terms of language, political representation and culture.”
The award ceremony is expected to be organised in December.
Demirtaş is imprisoned in the F-type prison in Turkey’s western city of Edirne since 3rd November 2016. F-type prisons are high-security prisons consisting of cells instead of wards, designed to keep prisoners in isolation with minimum human contact and interaction with the outside world.
The prison’s location makes visits extremely difficult for the family of Demirtaş who lives in the eastern city of Diyarbakır (Amed), requiring them to travel a distance of roughly 1700km for every visit.
The former HDP c-chair is kept in prison despite a binding ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in December 2020 that he must be immediately released. The Court said in its ruling that the Turkish state’s justification for his imprisonment was actually a cover for limiting pluralism and debate.
In the ‘Kobanî trial’, Demirtaş is accused, along with former HDP co-chairwoman Figen Yüksekdag and other prominent HDP officials, of organising events that ended up with multiple fatalities and injuries.
In October 2014, there was a call by the HDP to protest against the Turkish Government’s opposition to the resistance of the Kurdish forces in Kobanî who were fighting to stop the assault of ISIS on the city with very limited resources. During the protests, 46 people most of whom were associated with HDP were killed, and more than 600 wounded.