The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ordered Turkey to immediately release from prison the prominent opposition politician Selahattin Demirtas (former co-chair of Peoples’ Democratic Party – HDP).
The grand chamber ruling found that Demirtaş has had his freedom of expression, liberty and right to free elections breached, stating that his detention had “the ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate”.
Demirtas has been imprisoned since 2016, accused of more than 100 separate charges (including being the leader of a terrorist organisation and insulting the president). He faces a total of 142 years.
In today’s binding judgment the Court stated that they did not see any evidence that established a link between Demirtas and the alleged offences. Demirtas is a leading figure and highly respected opposition politician, and it is widely acknowledged that his imprisonment is motivated by President Erdogan’s wish to entrench a one-man regime and stifle all democratic opposition.
The grand chamber judgment also states that the prolonged detention of Selahattin Demirtaş is contrary to “the very core of the concept of a democratic society” (…) and sends “a dangerous message to the entire population.”
SPOT calls for the immediate release of Selahattin Demirtas and all opposition politicians who have been arbitrarily detained in Turkey.