Sinn Féins Seán Crowe to the deputy head of government of Ireland: How do you view the imprisonment of Demirtaş and the other HDP members?

Seán Crowe, Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade of Sinn Féin presented parliamentary question proposal in the Parliament of Ireland (Houses of the Oireachtas) asking Simon Coveney, the deputy head of government and Minister for Foreign Affairs about his views on our Co-chair Demirtaş and the other MPs detention.  

In his question proposal Crowe asked Coveney if his attention has been drawn to the trial of a person (details supplied) in Turkey that began on 7 December 2017; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the Turkish authorities are not allowing them attend their own trial in person; his views on whether they will receive a fair trial in view of the present conditions in Turkey and the fact that President Erdogan openly calls his political opponent a terrorist; his views on the imprisonment of other HDP members and MPs; and if an official from the Irish embassy in Turkey is attending and monitoring this high profile trial. 

Simon Coveney answered Crowe's questions as follows:

The Deputy will recall that my predecessor issued a statement expressing serious concerns when the co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic (HDP) Party, Figen Yüksekdað and Selahattin Demirtas, were arrested in November 2016. A representative of the Embassy in Ankara tried without success to gain access to the court when Figen Yüksekdað’s trial opened in July and, when Selahattin Demirtas’s trial opened on 7 December, a number of European Union and like-minded Embassies tried unsuccessfully to gain access to the court. Neither was Selahattin Demirtas allowed access to the court, since the authorities would only make a video-link available to him.

Notwithstanding the sensitive security situation in Turkey following the attempted coup in 2016, it is vital that the rule of law, freedom of expression and democracy should prevail. The arrest and detention of elected members of Parliament is especially worrying and I have repeatedly said that all those facing trial in Turkey must be afforded full due process, including the presumption of innocence and the right to a free and fair trial. The pre-trial detention of Selahattin Demirtas has already been lengthy and I am concerned that the level of transparency implicit in the right to due process is not being observed in this case. The Embassy in Ankara has regular contact with other HDP members of Parliament and will continue to monitor both trials as closely as feasible.

In the meantime, I would reiterate earlier calls to the Turkish authorities to engage in dialogue so that outstanding issues can be resolved by political means. Turkey is a candidate country for membership of the European Union and, as such, is committed to adhering to European values. The Turkish authorities need to continue to engage in constructive dialogue on human rights and rule of law issues, including with the Council of Europe.

14 December 2017