Former HDP deputy released from prison after Turkey's Constitutional Court ruling
A jailed former member of parliament for the pro-Kurdish party, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, was released from prison on Friday after Turkish Constitutional Court ruled that his conviction violated his rights, secularist opposition daily Cumhuriyet reported. The Turkish Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that sentencing the former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy for statements he made during speeches in 2013 was a violation of his right to freedom of expression.
In an interview after his release, Önder said Turkey’s Constitutional Court's ruling on July 26 that the Turkish judiciary had violated academics’ right to freedom of expression by charging them with terror offences for signing a petition for peace was a breaking point. "Prisons became a natural station waiting for those who struggle for peace and democracy in this country," Önder said to T24.
Önder was jailed on Dec. 6 last year after a court upheld a three-year-and-six-month sentence on charges of making propaganda for a terrorist organisation.
Önder was accused of making terror propaganda by praising Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in speeches he made in March 2013 during a ceasefire was declared between the PKK and Turkish security forces.
Talking to the journalists before entering the Kandıra No 1 Type-F Prison, Önder said, "We stand behind whatever we said. Salute to all friends. Peace and democracy will win."
'Good days are coming soon'
Önder also made a written statement, which has been released by HDP:
"We are going through such days which are not surprising for those who are making efforts for peace and democracy. This well of war and vulgarity is not as deep as it is thought to be. Although what have been lived through seems gloomy, good days for whole country are coming soon.
"Our tradition have countless examples of making the most out of what we have. Every word we say, every effort we make are our honors. If necessary, paying price is, too... I salute all friends with feelings of peace and solidarity."
In the case HDP's former Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş and former MP Önder were being tried for "propagandizing for a terror organization", the court announced its verdict on September 8. The two politicians were sentenced to 56 and 43 months in prison respectively, because of the speeches that they made on Newroz Day in 2013, at a time when the Turkish government was running a "resolution process" to the Kurdish question.
Attorneys of Demirtaş and Önder appealed against the ruling. The verdict reached to the 2nd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice, which is operating as a court of appeal, on October 25.
After the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) announced on November 16 that it will pronounce its verdict on Demirtaş's appeal against his arrest on November 20, the court of appeal in İstanbul began preliminary evaluation on the case of Demirtaş and Önder on November 19.
On November 20, the ECtHR gave its verdict, stating Demirtaş should be immediately released. On December 4, the İstanbul court of appeal upheld the prison sentences given to Demirtaş and Önder. (AS/VK)
Former HDP deputy enters prison after a court approves sentence
A Turkish appeals court on Tuesday also upheld a four-year-and-eight-month prison sentence for the jailed former head of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş. The court’s verdict has effectively prevented the implementation of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights last month that said the opposition politician should be released.
HDP politicians are accused of aiding the PKK, an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for more than 30 years and is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The two lawmakers were sentenced for praising Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, during their speeches in March 2013, when a peace process was launched by the Turkish government to resolve the Kurdish issue and Öcalan called for the withdrawal of PKK forces.