EP: We call for Demirtaş’ immediate release and to drop all charges against him, Yüksekdağ and the imprisoned HDP members

European Parliament adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Turkey, notably the case of our former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and other prisoners of conscience.

The resolution briefly reads as follows:

The European Parliament;

1. Calls for Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş’s immediate and unconditional release from detention in compliance with the 2018 judgment of the ECtHR and confirmed by the ruling of its Grand Chamber of 22 December 2020 and to drop all charges against him and Ms Figen Yüksekdağ, former co-chairs of the opposition HDP and the other imprisoned members of the party; stresses that the Turkish authorities must let them exercise their democratic mandates independently and free from threats and impediments; reiterates its support to all those who continue to work to end these and other cases of sheer injustice and to return Turkey to the path of a fully-fledged democracy;

2. Reminds the Turkish authorities that their failure to release Mr Demirtaş constitutes a direct violation of the ECHR and of its domestic law, an unjustifiable prolongation of the violation of Mr Demirtaş’s rights and a blatant breach of Turkey’s obligation to implement the rulings of the ECtHR; insists that the ECtHR judgment means that the Turkish authorities must release him immediately;

3. Stresses that the ECtHR judged the lengthy and unlawful pre-trial detention of Mr Demirtaş to be politically motivated; expresses its deep concerns over the irregular practices and political statements made around this case, which suggest that the Turkish Government interfered in judicial affairs related to the prolonged detention of Mr Demirtaş;

4. Calls on the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to urgently review, in its next meeting on 21 March 2021, Turkey’s refusal to execute the judgment of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR in the case of Demirtaş v Turkey, to adopt a declaration on the matter, and to take the necessary steps to ensure that the Government of Turkey implements this judgment without any further delay; is fully confident that the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will take all appropriate and necessary measures to ensure the implementation of the Grand Chamber ruling in Mr Demirtaş’s case; calls on the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe to redouble its efforts in ensuring the implementation of the ECtHR judgments on Turkey;

5. Condemns the Turkish authorities’ treatment of Mr Demirtaş, which violates his rights under the ECHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Turkish domestic law, and his human dignity as enshrined in Article 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey; considers the unlawful extension of Mr Demirtas’ detention for more than 4years a cruel and politically motivated punishment that is causing irreparable personal and political damage to him, his family and his party; calls on Turkey to refrain from further intimidation measures against him and to guarantee his human rights as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution and in European and international law;

6. Urges the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Commission and the Member States to continue to bring up the case of Mr Demirtaş and all other cases of human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, politicians and academics subjected to arbitrary detention with their Turkish interlocutors, and to provide diplomatic and political support for them; calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase the use of emergency grants for human rights defenders and to ensure the full implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders by the Delegation of the EU and Member State diplomatic representations to Turkey; urges the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey to continue to closely monitor the case of Mr Demirtaş and other prisoners, including through attending their trials, and to continue to raise their situations with the Turkish authorities;

7. Is deeply concerned about the disregard shown by the Turkish judiciary and authorities for ECtHR rulings and the increasing non-compliance of Turkish lower courts with the judgments of the Turkish Constitutional Court; calls on Turkey to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the ECHR and the decisions of the ECtHR; urges its full cooperation with the Council of Europe in strengthening the rule of law, minority rights, democracy and fundamental rights; hopes that the ECtHR will be able to expedite its decisions in numerous cases involving the situation in Turkey; urges the Turkish Government to ensure that all individuals have the fundamental right to due process and to have their cases examined by a fully independent and functioning judicial system, in accordance with international standards;

8. Is deeply concerned about the constant attacks and pressure on the opposition parties, in particular the continuous specific and politically motivated targeting of the HDP and its youth organisations by the Turkish authorities, which undermines the proper functioning of democratic system, and calls on the Turkish authorities to immediately end their crackdown against them; expresses particular concern as to the ongoing debate about the closure of the HDP and the lifting of the immunities of nine HDP MPs, both for the same Kobane protests of October 2014 for which Mr Demirtaş is being detained; highlights the case of Cihan Erdal, member of the youth wing of the Turkish Green/Left party, who was detained on 25 September 2020 and indicted on 7 January 2021 together with more than 100 defendants, including Selahattin Demirtaş, as part of the ‘Kobane case’; is seriously concerned about the continuous political and judicial harassment of Canan Kaftancıoğlu, Istanbul provincial chair of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who was sentenced on September 2019 to almost 10 years in prison on a politically motivated cases, for which a Supreme Court decision is pending, and who was indicted in December 2020 in a new case for which she faces another 10 years;

9. Expresses its great concern at the shrinking space for civil society and the ongoing deterioration of fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law in Turkey; highlights, in particular, concerns over Turkey’s sustained backsliding as regards the independence of the judiciary; calls on the Turkish authorities to put an end to its judicial harassment of human rights defenders, academics, journalists, spiritual leaders, lawyers and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, whose fundamental rights have been infringed, especially after the failed coup d’état attempt; urges the Turkish Government to immediately release the prominent civil society figure Osman Kavala in compliance with the ECHR judgment of May 2020 and following the repeated calls and resolutions from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe;

10. Recalls the recently approved EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, a mechanism for monitoring and sanctioning the serious violations of human rights, as is the case in Turkey, targeting individuals, entities and bodies involved in or associated with serious human rights violations;

11. Is highly concerned about the situation of media freedom in Turkey; calls on the Turkish authorities to immediately reply and act on all alerts issued with regard to Turkey on the Council of Europe Platform and to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists; calls on the Turkish authorities to ensure fair access to justice and to end politically motivated lawsuits against journalists and media professionals; expresses its serious concern over the monitoring of social media platforms and condemns the shutdown of social media accounts by Turkey’s authorities; considers this to be a further restriction of the freedom of expression and a tool to repress civil society;

12. Takes note of Turkey’s intention to turn a new page in its relations with the EU, its determination to implement reforms and its full commitment to the accession process, as expressed by President Erdogan and other top government officials on 9 January 2021; is of the view that respecting and applying the rulings of the ECtHR would be an important step in confirming the credibility of such statements using real data; reiterates the EU’s openness to a new start; underlines, however, that better and deeper relations are fully dependent on, inter alia, tangible improvements in respect for democratic principles, the rule of law and fundamental rights within Turkey;

13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and the President, Government and Parliament of Turkey, and requests that this resolution be translated into Turkish.

For the full text please click here.

21 January 2021