Turkey orders jailing of pro-Kurdish lawmaker for ‘terrorism’


Semra Guzel was already arrested on Friday and a court decided late Saturday to imprison her pending trial, Istanbul police said, in line with the prosecutor’s request.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK party and its allies often accuse the HDP of being the political wing of the Kurdish Workers’ Party, designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara [Getty]

A Turkish court has ordered the provisional imprisonment of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker accused of terrorism, Istanbul police and his lawyer have said, while his party has called the detention illegitimate and unethical.

Semra Guzel, a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), had her parliamentary immunity lifted in March after photos of her taken years ago with a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activist circulated in the Turkish media. An arrest warrant was then issued for membership in a terrorist organization.

Guzel was detained in Istanbul on Friday and a court decided late Saturday to jail her pending trial, Istanbul police said, in accordance with the prosecutor’s request.

Veysi Eski, a lawyer for Guzel, said the charge against Guzel was groundless and called it a continuation of what he called “political genocide operations” against the HDP.

“A person visiting an acquaintance in the camp of the organization (PKK) does not in itself constitute a crime of membership in a (terrorist) organization,” Eski said. Reuters.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced the detention on Friday, saying Guzel had been “arrested”.

“Our MP is being held unethically; the fact that the government is making propaganda material out of him using inappropriate and ugly language shows the helplessness of the ruling party,” the HDP said in a statement ahead of the court decision.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party and its nationalist allies frequently accuse the HDP of being the political wing of the PKK. Thousands of HDP members have been tried in recent years on similar charges. The party denies any connection with terrorism.

When the photos first surfaced in January, Guzel said the person was her fiancé and the photos were taken when she visited him during a peace process between the Turkish state and the PKK which had failed in 2015.

Guzel said the investigation against her, based on evidence found after the activist was killed in 2017, was only launched after she became an MP a year later.

Critics say Turkish courts are bending to the will of Erdogan and his party. The government denies this.

The PKK launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984. It is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.



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