International delegation blocked from visiting HDP's Demirtaş in prison

The international delegation organized by the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) has been blocked from visiting HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş held in Edirne Prison.

Accompanied by HDP Party Assembly member Ayşe Berktay and Istanbul MP Hüda Kaya, an international delegation organized by the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) went to Edirne Prison to visit HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş.

The Justice Ministry did not respond to the delegation's application for the visit, which was therewith denied by the prison administration.

Speaking here, HDP Istanbul Parliamentarian Hüda Kaya said the followings: “We are in front of Edirne Prison with activists from the European Parliament and different countries in order to visit our Co-president Selahattin Demirtaş. The delegation applied to the Ministry of Justice but did not receive any response. However, when we came here, we found out that our meeting was prohibited. As a parliamentarian, I, too, was prevented from meeting with Demirtaş. There is no explanation for the imprisonment of our parliamentarians who are political representatives of millions of people. I wish Turkey did not make it to world agenda with these human rights violations and unlawfulness. Turkey will be convicted by the world public opinion for imprisoning the parliamentarians of the third biggest political party in Turkey and its Co-chairs at such a time when Turkey is at a sharp curve.”

The delegation members made a statement in front of Edirne Prison and stated below:


Thomas Jeffrey Miley, a Lecturer from the University of Cambridge: Our delegation is consisting of members from Europe and North America, including Members of European Parliament and of the Council of Europe, academics, and journalists. 3 days ago we were in Diyarbakır. We had meetings with representatives from the Kurdish Movement, political parties, trade unions, and other civil society organizations and local people. We observed the situation in there for 3 days. We got informed about the ongoing infringements of rights since unraveling of the peace process.

One of the main mission of our delegation has been to see Mr Öcalan, the leader of Kurdish movement. For over a decade now Mr Öcalan has been a consistent and a strong voice calling for peace between Turkish State and Kurdish people. His isolation in inhumane conditions has been the parcel of the escalation in unraveling the peace process which has led to so many deaths. It’s urgent that the peace process recommence and the current escalation of violence be stopped. The Kurdish Freedom Movement cannot be defeated militarily, there must be political solution.

We intend to distribute a report on our findings and observations about the dire abuses on human rights that are going on especially in the run up to the referendum which we witnessed.


Member of the European Parliament Julie Ward: We see that there are huge increases in the numbers of detained and arrested people, students, teachers, academicians, civil servants. Democracy is under attack here. Because I’m a democratically elected member of European Parliament, I wanted to be here to support my colleagues, my comrades, to support people who are like me, who stood for election, who democratically elected and now they have been detained and imprisoned in inhumane conditions.

This is not the first high level delegation that has stood outside of this prison gates. Members of the Party of European Socialists were here in November and they were also then asking for permission to see Mr. Demirtaş.

Every time we are denied, we’ll come back, we’ll broadcast this, we’ll tell the world that we are not allowed to see the democratically elected members of parliament. We will keep coming back until we get the permission to see our imprisoned colleagues.

While this situation continue in Turkey everybody is suffering, economy is suffering, tourism is suffering, and Turkey’s profile is suffering globally. It’s really important in terms of progress, in terms of everybody’s economic prosperity and in terms of social inclusion that democracy is upheld. And terrorism cannot be used as an excuse to shut down opposition and other voices. A strong state is a state that can have a healthy opposition.


Ulla Sandbaek, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (from Denmark): We are two members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe here. We are going to have a debate about Turkey in April. The resolution that we want to make out of this debate is Turkey should go back to the peace process. For us it’s very important to know what is standing in the way to return to the peace process. So we do have to criticize what is going on in Turkey now. We’re standing now in front of a prison where our colleagues are jailed just because they oppose the ruling government. They are not terrorists, they have done nothing wrong. But your government going back to peace process instead of putting in prison those who oppose is the thing we need to witness.


Father Joe Ryan, the Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission: I’m the Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission and my task is to be concerned with human rights and to indicate what the catholic church is teaching on human rights. One of the things that I’m concerned with is the violation of the human rights. What happened in Northern Ireland is similar to the things happening in Turkey now, the denial of human rights. It’s honour to be here to support our sisters and brothers who are in a very difficult situation here. And I’ve seen a deterioration of the society since my last visit which was a year ago. When we return to England there will be a meeting at the House of Commons and we will give our report of findings.

The delegation includes current Member of the European Parliament Julie Ward; one former MEP, Francis Wurtz; two current representatives from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Miren Edurne Gorrotxategi and Ulla Sandbaek; a former Member of Iceland’s Parliament and trade unionist, Ögmundur Jonasson; the veteran Foreign Correspondent for The Guardian, Jonathan Steele; the Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, Father Joe Ryan; two members of the Advisory Board of the Transnational Institute for Social Ecology, Dimitri Roussopoulos and Federico Venturini; and Thomas Jeffrey Miley, a Lecturer from the University of Cambridge.