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Published On: Fri, Jan 12th, 2018

Turkish court sentenced HDP deputy and MP Abdullah Zeydan to eight years on terror charges

nsnbc : A Turkish court sentenced People’s Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Abdullah Zeydan to 8 years, 1 month and 15 days on terror charges, according to HDP. This is the second time Zeydan has been convicted on the same offence.

HDP MP Abdullah Zeydan (centre) was sentenced to over 8 years in jail on terror charges on Thursday. Photo: Abdullah Zeydan/Twitter

HDP MP Abdullah Zeydan (centre) was sentenced to over 8 years in jail on terror charges on Thursday. Photo: Abdullah Zeydan/Twitter

Zeydan was originally found guilty of aiding a terror organization in July 2016 but he appealed the court’s ruling. His appeal was granted and his conviction was overturned on the grounds of lack of evidence.

However, the prosecutor retaliated and renewed the charges against Zeydan. He was arrested on November 4, 2016, along with several other HDP deputies and was convicted by the same court for a second time on Thursday.  The sentence he was handed on Thursday is identical to what he was given in 2016. The HDP has condemned the court’s decision as politically motivated and biased.

The charges relate to the funeral of a YPG fighter that Zeydan attended. The prosecution maintains that the Syrian – Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is a terrorist organization allied and on par with Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

The YPG’s official position in that regard has become somewhat ambiguous since the United States began supporting the YPG as the main constituent of the also US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. Officially there is often a policy of denial – to please the US – while the photo and flags of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan fly in the face of anyone who participates in official YPG arrangements.

Prosecutors allege that PKK members were at the funeral. HDP insists Zeydan was in attendance to comfort the family members only. Moreover, attending a funeral of a deceased YPG member is in and on itself not evidence for one’s own membership in or support of an organization that has been designated as terrorist.

Ahmed Yildirim, head of HDP’s bloc in the parliament, described the court case as theatre and claimed the result was pre-determined, because “the order has been written from higher places,” referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party. Yildirim asked why Turkey still has an appeal court if their decisions are not respected.

According to the HDP, the judge that heard the most recent case accused Zeydan’s lawyers of “bothering” the court. Zeydan has been staying in the same cell as HDP’s former co-chair Selahattin Demirtas in the high security Edirne prison. The two joined a prison hunger strike in March 2017.

“In consequence of the Edirne Prison’s stance of no-dialogue, unlawful practices, inhuman practices against other prisoners, and the complete lack of good intention regarding the ending of hunger strikes that have been continuing for days, we, too, from Friday on, will begin a hunger strike,” read a statement they issued from Edirne prison at the time.

In August 2017, Zeydan had health problems but he refused to go to hospital because he would have been forced to travel handcuffed. In May 2016, the Turkish parliament voted to lift immunity from a select group of MPs, including many HDP members facing terror charges for alleged ties to the PKK.  Nine HDP MPs are currently in prison.

CH/L – nsnbc 12.01.2018

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