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Turkey May Face Sanctions After EU Court Decision Regarding Jailed Kurdish Politician.

European Court Slams Erdogan Administration For Imprisonment of Kurdish Politician

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) called on Turkey to release Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-chairman of pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), who has been imprisoned for two years and sharply criticized his ongoing imprisonment.

In an unusually blunt statement, the ECtHR portrayed Demirtas’s continuing imprisonment as politically motivated. While the court said Demirtas had been arrested on “reasonable suspicion,” the extensions of his detention lacks plausible justification.

In November 2016, Demirtas, along with other HDP Co-Chair Figen Yuksekdag, have been arrested on the charges of having links to outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

He faces dozens of years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors particularly charge him with instigating the violent anti-government protests in October 2014 when HDP supporters took into streets to protest the Erdogan government’s indifference to Islamic State (ISIS) onslaught on the Syrian border town of Kobani.

More than 40 people had been killed during Kobani protests across Turkey. Demirtas vehemently denies any role for the outbreak of violence. His imprisonment came when the Turkish government unleashed a massive crackdown on opponents in different quarters of the political spectrum, arresting tens of thousands of people, including HDP lawmakers and supporters.

Unlike its verdict and judgment on previous applications from Turkey regarding detention of journalists, the ECtHR invoked the 18th article of European Human Rights Convention in its recent decision, setting the stage for a potential diplomatic showdown.

The 18th article appears as binding for the countries against which the verdict was delivered. But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outright dismissed ECtHR call for the release of Demirtas.

“[The extensions of detention] had pursued the predominant ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate, which was at the very core of the concept of a democratic society,” the top human rights court said in its statement.

“The Court therefore held, unanimously, that the respondent state was to take all necessary measures to put an end to the applicant’s pre-trial detention,” the court added, pressing Turkey to act swiftly.

In its articulation of the reasoning, the ECtHR referred to the “tense political climate” in Turkey, an element that “created an environment capable of influencing certain decisions by the national courts.”

If Turkey refuses to comply with the recent verdict, it would have grave ramifications for Turkey’s relations with the Council of Europe. Ankara may face sanctions in the case of non-compliance and even lose its membership in the Council of Europe, as the 18th article requires for the failing respondent states.

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Imprisonment of Academics Sparks Public Backlash

In a new round of crackdown, Istanbul police units have detained a number of academics linked with philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been in prison for nearly a year, sparking criticism and condemnation from large segments of society, including leading business organization TUSIAD.

The new wave of arrests took place as part of Istanbul police’s efforts to dismantle Kavala-affiliated NGO Anadolu Kultur. Law Professor Turgut Tarhanli and Professor Betul Tanbay are among the detained.

“It is very sad to begin the day with the news of detention of many academics at a time when we were talking the return of scientists to the country. We owe the productivity of the lands in which we live to our culture that has become a shelter of science for centuries. We cannot progress by denying this!” Erol Bilecik, the head of the Turkish Industry and Business People’s Association (TUSIAD) wrote on Twitter, expressing his dismay.

Kavala, a secular and pro-Western activist, was imprisoned last year. Despite calls from the international community, the Turkish authorities did not allow his release.

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Kurdish Politician Says Erdogan Behind Latest Crackdown

Co-Chair of pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) pointed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as someone who pulled the strings behind a massive crackdown that targeted more than a 100 politicians and journalists in the latest wave last week.

In simultaneous raids, the Turkish police raided offices and houses of tens of politicians linked with HDP and a group of journalists in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir and other cities. The clampdown has aroused international and national criticism.

Sezai Temelli accused Erdogan of giving the order for the latest move that inflicted a new blow to the party already bleeding in the face of incessant waves of the crackdown. Former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were imprisoned in late 2016 and are still in jail over terrorism charges. Thousands of party members have been jailed over similar charges.

This week saw another phase. The Turkish government has already taken over the administrations of more than 100 Kurdish-run municipalities. The president has repeatedly shown no signs of backing down and signaled a further escalation of crackdown amid armed clashes between Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish security forces.

A fragile truce between the PKK and the Turkish military collapsed in 2015 and renewed urban fighting gave Erdogan additional tools and excuse to crack down on the Kurdish political party which he portrays as the political wing of the armed militants.

The HDP rejects such blanket definitions and refuses association with PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish state since the early 1980s to carve out an autonomous zone for self-governance in southeastern Turkey.

A round of peace negotiations in 2015 came to an abrupt end when Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in Parliament in June 7 elections. When Demirtas cruised HDP to Parliament after an upsetting electoral victory that denied AKP the chance to form another single-party government. HDP’s unexpected triumph appeared to be a turning point after the president altered his policy course regarding the Kurdish conflict and adopted a security-first approach to resolving the decades-old issue.

The military solution, although tried during countless different governments over the past four decades, has ultimately proved to be elusive and untenable. The latest bout of violence reduced cities to rubble in many parts of southeastern Turkey, leading to the displacement of nearly half a million people. Both Human Rights Watch and the United Nations well documented the scale of devastation that swept the entire region, revealing the scope of its social and economic cost in fullest form.

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Phone stalker accuses socialist actor of being Gulenist, threatens to report to police

The veteran, socialist actor İlyas Salman has become the latest victim of intimidation environment engulfing Turkey especially after the failed coup attempt.A phone stalker threatened to lodge complaint about Salman’s alleged ties to the Gulen Movement after her successive calls were refused by the actor.Filing a counter-complaint to an Istanbul prosecutor, Salman said he received an SMS after several phone calls from a woman named Öznur which read: “I am very sorry. Don’t pick up the phone. I will inform against you as a pro-FETO.”

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Veteran legal expert says ops targeting Gülen movement remind him of Hitler’s Germany

Metin Günday, Professor of Administrative Law at Ankara University, has said that detentions and arrests carried out as part of operations targeting Gülen movement – a grassroots initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen – reminds him of the practices in Hitler’s Germany.

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Erdoğan accuses US of being ‘superior mind’ behind ‘parallel state’

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the US government of being the “superior mind” behind the so-called “parallel state”, which is a term coined by Erdoğan in December 2013 to refer to people believed to be inspired by the ideas of Gülen, especially those within the state bureaucracy.

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