Demo in front of the Serbian Consulate in Zurich demands “Freedom for Ecevit Piroğlu”

HBDH activists called for freedom for Ecevit Piroğlu in front of the Serbian Consulate in Zurich. The internationalist activist from Turkey has been on hunger strike for over two months against his unlawful imprisonment in Serbia.

Activists from the Peoples' United Revolutionary Movement (HBDH) called for the freedom of Ecevit Piroğlu in front of the Serbian consulate in Zurich. The internationalist from Turkey fled to Serbia in June 2021 due to political persecution and applied for asylum. He was arrested immediately upon arrival at Belgrade airport at the request of the Turkish state and has been detained ever since, while his asylum application was rejected. According to the HBDH, Piroğlu has been on hunger strike for 68 days and his life is in danger.

"We know Ecevit Piroğlu from the Gezi uprising and from the internationalist struggle against ISIS in Rojava. As revolutionaries, socialists and patriots, we do not accept that he is being held hostage by the partnership between Turkey and Serbia," said the Zurich activists demonstrating in front of the Serbian consulate. “Turkey is sticking to its extradition request, even though it has been rejected at international level and by the Serbian judiciary. His extradition has been prevented in 2022 by a 136-day hunger strike and international support. At the moment, Ecevit Piroğlu is being held hostage by the Serbian government without an arrest warrant under pressure from Turkey."

The activists called for public support for Piroğlu and for pressure to be exerted on the Serbian government, demanding: "Freedom for Ecevit Piroğlu, Serbia must end this lawlessness!"

Ecevit Piroğlu

Ecevit Piroğlu was born in 1974 in the central Anatolian city of Kırşehir, originally from Erzincan. Politicised in the student movement of the 1990s, he later worked as a board member of the internationally renowned Human Rights Association (IHD), which has been denouncing torture in detention, police violence at demonstrations and the "disappearances" of left-wing and Kurdish people in Turkey for decades. Piroğlu was imprisoned several times for his political work.

As an active participant in the 2013 Gezi uprising and leader of the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP), he was increasingly targeted by the government. In June 2013, a state "revenge operation" was carried out against the SDP for its leading role in Gezi, and its headquarters in Istanbul were raided by special paramilitary police units. Piroğlu was among the 74 people who were brutally arrested at the time. Many of those detained at the time were later sentenced to long prison terms in the so-called "Revolutionary Headquarters" trial.

In view of the arrests and massive persecution of its leaders, the SDP was forced to disband in 2015. That same year, Piroğlu decided to leave Turkey to escape a decade-long prison sentence. He travelled to northern Syria and joined the fight against the ISIS terrorist militia. In June 2021, he travelled to Serbia to apply for political asylum and was arrested at Belgrade airport via the Interpol system, which Turkey systematically misuses as an instrument to punish its political opponents abroad. Ankara has Piroğlu on its "red list" of most wanted "terrorists", and a bounty of ten million TL has been placed on his head.

In October 2022, the Court of Appeal in Belgrade overturned the decision of a lower court to extradite Ecevit Piroğlu to Turkey. The activist remains in custody in violation of the guidelines of the UN Committee against Torture, Serbian law and previous court judgements. He faces at least thirty years in prison in Turkey.