News in Brief

On 20 March, Human Rights Watch reported on the Turkish government’s repression of Kurdish political parties which jailed 13 members of parliament and elected mayors and took control of 82 municipalities in the Kurdish southeast.

The Turkish authorities have detained over 9,000 party officials of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and its regional sister party, Democratic Regions Party (DBP). This has limited their campaigning for a ‘No’ vote in the 16 April referendum on creating a presidential system to entrench the power of current leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

‘Human Rights Watch has examined the criminal indictments against 11 HDP members of parliament and decisions to detain them pending trial. The evidence cited in the indictments consists mainly of political speeches rather than any conduct that could reasonably support charges of membership of an armed organization or separatism.’

HRW examined the 500-page indictment against Selahattin Demirtas, HDP co-leader and member of parliament for Istanbul: ‘the evidence cited against Demirtas consists mainly of his speeches... none of the information seems to point to anything approaching criminal activity.’